Publisher’s open letter to Chester residents

Dear Chester residents,

On March 17, the town of Chester named The Chester Telegraph their legal paper of record. A paper of record serves as one piece of a process that informs residents and taxpayers about town operations. It is intended to be a documented outlet that can easily be looked back on at any time, and also to reach the largest audience possible.

Following the March 17 meeting, a Public Forum was held April 7 that allowed residents and the public to voice their concerns about the matter. There was public support for both The Vermont Journal and The Chester Telegraph.

At the April 21 meeting, chairman Arne Jonynas made a recommendation that the board continue to use The Vermont Journal in addition to The Chester Telegraph. Instead, the Chester Selectboard voted to use The Commons and The Chester Telegraph as their legal papers of record.

It is disheartening to me that the town of Chester decided to use these sources as their paper of record: a printed paper based out of Brattleboro with 180 papers in Chester – which are only available at local stores – and an online news source that is not accessible to everyone in town.

Chester is my home. I was raised here. I attended Chester-Andover Elementary School and graduated from Green Mountain Union High School. I used to ride my bike to Lisai’s for a bulkie and penny candies before I made my way to the town pool. My parents and grandmother still live here. It is a community that I care about. I returned from college to my hometown to work in my community at The Vermont Journal. I take pride in being the publisher of a newspaper that covers the Chester community, and other surrounding towns that we all care about.

We may not be able to measure how many people are reading The Vermont Journal cover to cover, but I can guarantee that we are accessible to everyone. We are delivered to 100% of Chester residents – 2,293 papers each week – to every mailbox and post office box. We’re also in local stores and we have a great online presence.

I do respect residents’ decision to choose to The Chester Telegraph to read the news. But I also have had many residents come forward to tell me personally that they don’t use a computer and rely on our paper to read the news.

Thank you, Chester residents, for expressing your concerns at the Public Forum, speaking with us directly, or sending letters to the Selectboard to voice your concern about a printed paper of record. We appreciate all your support.

We have half a dozen employees working hard to put our paper together and distribute it each week. We also have a handful of reporters who care and write about the communities they live in. Our advertisers – and legal notices – are what support our paper and staff. We’re thankful for all of you.

We will continue to cover the events and happenings in the Chester community, along with the Selectboard meetings and other routine agenda items. There are many who look forward to sitting with our paper to turn each page, read our upcoming events, reminisce over Ron Patch’s local history, and do our crossword puzzle. I take pride in everyone who chooses to read our paper. That’s exactly what we’re here for. We hear you, and we appreciate you.


Shawntae Webb


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