Longtime St. John Valley Times icon Don Levesque has retired after more than 25 years at the newspaper. Levesque held almost every position at the newspaper, from ad salesperson to business manager and from managing editor to publisher.
As publisher, Levesque advocated for the Valley as a unique cultural asset to the state and the world. His work in promoting Franco-American and Acadian culture will always be remembered, as will his commitment to the truth and to serving his community.
Levesque joined the St. John Valley Times in 1985, hired as an advertising sales representative by then-Publisher Barry Stokes. He was named advertising manager then general manager shortly thereafter, in addition to selling ads throughout the Valley. Levesque became a reporter-photographer in 1988 and, during the same year, was named managing editor in addition to his duties as general manager and reporting from the greater Madawaska area.
Levesque was named publisher/editor in 1996 when ill health forced then-Publisher/Editor Emery “Legs” Labbe to step down. Labbe had been publisher for 10 years.
Publishers prior to Labbe were Barry Stokes, 1980-1986; Forrest Rahrig, 1971-1980; and founder Joe Falter, 1957-1971.
Levesque continues to contribute his popular weekly column “Mon 5 cents” to the Valley Times and is now working toward bringing a successful World Acadian Congress to the Valley in 2014. He also offers his time to the Levesque Association and Le Club Francais.
Tessie Dubois stepped into the publisher position in January, bringing fresh ideas and an equally strong commitment to the St. John Valley Times.
Dubois has worked for newspapers in New Hampshire, New York and Maine, including the St. John Valley Times where 20 years ago she had been recruited by Labbe to work as a reporter for Levesque. More recently, she attained her MBA in Organizational Management in 2007. Upon her decision to move back to Maine, she worked as a Research and Development Specialist at Northern Maine Development Commission before deciding to rejoin the St. John Valley Times.
Since that time, General Assignment Reporter Tory Bonenfant of Verret, New Brunswick has joined the St. John Valley Times team just as new, state-of-the-art computers replaced the majority of computers at the Times, bringing the paper forward 10 years in technology.
Glenn Turner, who has held a variety of management and editorial positions at the Central Maine Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal over the past 37 years, has taken advantage of a termination officer and will leave March 31.
So will Justin Ellis, the host of NXT: The Next Generation blog at the Press Herald.
“The plan and its timing afford me a chance to explore new opportunities,” Turner wrote in an e-mail to his colleagues on Monday. “Personally and professionally, I believe this is the right thing to do. But don’t think I won’t miss you all.”
Turner’s latest assignment was special sections editor for the two dailies. He also served as president of the Maine Press Association in 1992-93.
Maine Today Media had previously announced several cutbacks at all three of its daily newspapers – the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Central Maine Morning Sentinel – in order to trim expenses.
Ellis, who has been with the Portland paper since 2003, made his announcement on March 17.
Referring to Maine Today Media’s announcement last month that another round of staff reductions was looming, Ellis said that since the company was looking for “willing bodies (to accept a buyout), I volunteered.”
“Even though I’ll be sticking around Press Herald Plaza till the end of the month, I wanted to drop the news first before anyone else got around to it.”
Although Ellis wrote that the NXT desk “will likely close its doors,” no announcement from MTM was made about the future of the blog.
Ellis presented a social networking workshop at the 2009 Maine Press Association Fall Conference.
The conservative government watchdog group Maine Heritage Policy Center joined the Maine Civil Liberties Union for an outdoor press conference in celebration of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to emphasize transparent government and freedom of information. Other participants included the Maine Press Association and Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
“I don’t want the general public to ever get the impression that these bills are ‘media and press-related only,'” said Mike Lange, executive director of the Maine Press Association. “I think we have to realize that I have the same rights to go into my town office and ask for a copy of the town manager’s contract as my 85-year-old neighbor. This is a peoples’ bill.”
Ann Mostue covered the press conference for MPBN.
Bangor Daily News assistant sports editor Pete Warner has received the Maine Sportswriter of the Year for the fourth time by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Warner, 48, has worked on the BDN sports staff since 1979 and serves a dual role as a writer and editor.
Warner is primarily responsible for college coverage, concentrating on football, women’s basketball and baseball, but he also writes about a variety of other sports at different levels.
“Pete’s versatility, work ethic and high level of professionalism are qualities all aspiring journalists should follow,” sports editor Joe McLaughlin said. “He consistently turns in quality stories and the number of duties he can handle in this changing business is impressive.”
Warner, a 1980 graduate of Bangor High School and a 1986 University of Maine alumnus with a B.A. in journalism, also coordinates the NEWS’ coverage of college sports.
Past BDN winners include Ernie Clark, Mike Dowd, John Holyoke, Larry Mahoney and Andrew Neff.
After a long absence, the Advertiser-Democrat and Rumford Falls Times have rejoined the Maine Press Association. The two weeklies are owned by Sun Media where Ed Snook serves as publisher.
The Advertiser Democrat is one of the oldest publications in Maine, if not the oldest. Its roots are traced to the Oxford Observer which was first published in Paris Hill in 1824.
The weekly paper derives its name from the merger of the Norway Advertiser and the Oxford Democrat in 1933. It covers approximately 18 towns in Western Maine.
The birth of the Rumford Falls Times is traced back to 1883 when Boston newspaper publisher Edgar N. Carver started a weekly in nearby Canton known as the Canton Telephone.
For a short time in the 1950s, the Rumford Falls Times was published as a daily. But in 1954, a massive fire that started as a lumber company one block away wiped out the Times office, printing plant and radio station WRUM. It eventually went back to a weekly publication.
Sun Media Group bought the Rumford Falls Times and Advertiser-Democrat from Howard James in 2005.
Remember writing? You should. After all, it’s what made so many of us get into newspapers in the first place. And it’s what makes reading the paper a pleasure – or a chore.
The Maine Press Association invites you to step back from the daily grind, take time to think about what makes or breaks a story and join a group of your colleagues to trade tips and ideas.
For two half-day workshops on April 9 at The Times Record in Brunswick and on April 22 at the Bangor Daily News, we plan to assemble small groups of writers to examine the work they’re doing and figure out how it could be more satisfying, to themselves and to readers.
Here is the link for the registration form and more information: MPAWorkshop.10
Four months after being named Maine Press Association Journalist of the Year, reporter Seth Koenig of The Times Record was honored as New England Journalist of the Year by the New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA) on Feb. 6.
Judges described Koenig’s work as “refreshingly honest and compelling. Each of his stories is insightful and relevant to his community. He highlights local events and people in his work, and his writing brings them to life.”
Koenig covers Bath and eight nearby communities, as well as Bath Iron Works and Brunswick Naval Air Station.
Coverage of Koenig’s award begins here with Times Record staff writer Beth Brogan.
The Ellsworth American claimed General Excellence honors in the Weekly Class Division as well as best Editorial Page, Local Election Coverage, Niche Publication, Classified House Advertisement and Self/circulation promotion.
Other first-place winners included:
James Straub of the Ellsworth American for Spot News Story;
The Bangor Daily News staff for Health Reporting and Local Election Coverage;
Eric Zelz of the Bangor Daily News for Illustration;
The Mount Desert Islander for Advertising General Excellence, Real Estate Advertisement and Sponsorship Page;
Earl Brechlin of the Mount Desert Islander for Editorial Writing;
Oka Hutchins of the Mount Desert Islander for Arts and Entertainment reporting.
Also, Troy Bennett of The Times Record, a member of the MPA Board of Directors, won a second-place award for his stunning photo of a tree sculptor. A copy is posted at our Gallery link.
Here is a complete list of the NENPA Better Newspaper Contest awards.
The Portland Press Herald will move its headquarters to One City Center over the next several months, according to an article in the Jan. 28 issue by staff reporter Kelley Bouchard.
The Press Herald will leave its longtime location at 390 Congress St. for a more modern, multi-tenant building one block away on Monument Square, in the heart of the city.
“Our goal has been to stay not only in Portland, but also in the center of the city,” said Richard Connor, the Press Herald’s editor and publisher. “Everyone we worked with and all the landlords worked hard to help us stay downtown.”
Built in 1923, the Press Herald building was sold to a developer in July, shortly after MaineToday Media Inc. bought the newspaper from the Seattle Times Co.
The Press Herald’s circulation department has moved to MTM’s printing plant on Gannett Drive in South Portland. The Maine Media Federal Credit Union also will move from the Press Herald building to the printing plant.
The Press Herald’s executive and finance departments will be located in temporary offices at One City Center starting Feb. 8. Other departments at 390 Congress St. will relocate to One City Center in a series of moves ending this summer.
The Maine Press Association has held a Spring Conference at the Augusta Civic Center for several years, usually tied in with a legislative theme. We’ve had numerous high-profile guest speakers including political analyst-author Chris Potholm and Governors John Baldacci and Angus King.
But times have changed. Newspaper staffs are smaller, and many editors and publishers usually can’t afford to take a half-day or more off to attend a conference.
Your priorities are also quite different. One common theme seems to be the need for affordable training, especially for entry-level reporters and even some seasoned veterans who would like to brush up on their skills.
So we’re coming to you – in at least two locations.
The MPA will host writer’s workshops on Friday, April 8 at the Times-Record in Brunswick and on Thursday, April 22 at the Bangor Daily News in Bangor. Each will run from 9 a.m. to approximately 12:30 p.m., and the cost of $25 per person will include lunch. A third workshop will be held in Aroostook County later in the summer.
The exact format and the presenters will be announced in future issues.
MaineToday Media has sent reporter Matt Wickenheiser and photographer Gregory Rec to Haiti to chronicle the efforts of Kate Nickerson of Portland and other Mainers. They will be filing stories online and in print and using Twitter to tell our readers and followers what it’s like to be there and what it means to help strangers in desperate need of assistance. Follow the TEAM’s Twitter reports: @MWickenheiser or @pressherald.