By Nancy West, InDepthNH.org
The town of Hollis has demanded that the Nashua Telegraph immediately stop dropping its free weekly – the Hollis Brookline Journal – at the end of every driveway in town, but the publisher says that’s not possible.
Hollis Police Chief Joseph Hoebeke said when the Nashua Telegraph ended its contract to mail the Journal to all Hollis residents, they put copies in a plastic bag and a courier delivers them to the end of every driveway in Hollis.
Communications from the Hollis Board of Selectmen Chairman Mark LeDoux on July 11 and from Hoebeke July 23 demanding that the practice stop haven’t persuaded Telegraph publisher Heather Henline, Hoebeke said, citing safety and environmental concerns mentioned in numerous complaints he and town officials have received.
LeDoux said townspeople enjoy the contents of the Journal, but wind and rain can quickly turn the newspaper into litter.
“As municipal officials responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of local roads, we consider these papers which end up in local roads and on town and local property, as litter,” LeDoux said in a letter addressed to Henline and Telegraph editor Matt Burdette.
Hoebeke told Henline in an email July 23: “So you know, I am receiving considerable pressure to cite the Telegraph and its delivery personnel for littering. I was hoping to avoid this avenue but as these issues persist, I am drawing closer and closer to this action.”
Henline didn’t respond to InDepthNH.org’s request for comment, but did respond by email to Hoebeke on July 23 saying people can be placed on a do-not-deliver list if they don’t want the Journal.
“Anyone who doesn’t wish to receive delivery of the paper may call our customer care line at 603-594-1200 and speak with a customer service rep or leave a voice message to add an address to our do-not-deliver list by opting out of the service,” Henline said.
They can also do so via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I also am going to send someone around on Tuesday to spot-check all of the addresses on the do-not-deliver list to remove any unwanted copies from previous weeks, should those still remain for any reason,” Henline wrote.
The Telegraph wants to be a good community partner, she said. “We have tried to do this these past several weeks, while still continuing to deliver our newspaper in a manner that meets current auditing guidelines and in accordance with applicable laws.
“I realize the request is for us to stop our current delivery method and return to the mail format, but that isn’t something we can do at this time. What we can do is continue to work with you and your department to ensure we respond to residents’ concerns,” Henline wrote.
Hoebeke said people are pretty upset because papers are being thrown wherever. Hoebeke believes the town would lose if the Telegraph challenged a litter citation because similar issues in other states have determined it would be unconstitutional.
But multiple attempts to work with the Telegraph have led to a frustrating impasse, he said.
“Many of these people were going away on vacation for a couple of weeks and papers were piling up at the end of their driveway which from a safety perspective gives people the idea that people are not home, which is not good,” Hoebeke said.
“It’s also not good for the environment. The paper will blow and create unwanted litter,” Hoebeke said.
And the do-not-deliver list isn’t working, he said. His email to Henline said: “I have also cc’d the Board of Selectmen and the Town Administrator on this email so they can consider the appropriate next steps if the current delivery practice continues.”
In April of 2013, the Nashua Telegraph was bought by Ogden Newspapers in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Last October, the Telegraph was cited for failing to properly pay 30 past and current employees a total of $9,000, according to Labor Commissioner Ken Merrifield, who said recently that issue has been rectified and no further complaints have been filed.
The newspaper also drew controversy last August for firing its longtime employee executive editor Sandy Bucknam.
Bucknam said at the time he was fired on Aug. 1, 2017 after 39 years with the Telegraph because he refused to make salaried personnel work longer hours to skirt overtime laws. They were already working 60 hours a week, he said. He was aware of the wage complaints to the state at the time.
After Bucknam’s firing, then-city editor Chris Garofolo gave his two-week notice and veteran journalists Don Himsel and Kathleen Palmer were laid off soon after.
The Telegraph had been criticized a year earlier when then-executive editor Roger Carroll said he resigned after he was ordered to withhold information in a story about Ogden’s purchase of a building in downtown Nashua.