Fifty-one local businesses, nonprofits and churches stepped up to sponsor the first two issues of the Harpswell Anchor. On the evening of July 21, we invited them all to join us at the School House 1913 restaurant to meet our new editor, JW Oliver. The event also gave us an opportunity to thank these organizations for their support.

The reception was generously underwritten by our friends at School House 1913.

In her welcoming remarks, Janice Thompson (Director of Development and Operations) recalled the acronym EMILY, or “early money is like yeast:” these organizations took a chance on us, and in so doing encouraged others to follow suit in later issues.

JW Oliver was the star of the show, and he told the group about his first impressions on the job:

“Thank you for being here tonight and for your support as founding sponsors of the new Harpswell Anchor.

I started work a month ago today and I have enjoyed every moment I have spent exploring this beautiful community.

I have found the people welcoming, grateful to have their newspaper back and eager to answer questions or provide information.

I believe in the importance of community journalism and I think the new Anchor has the potential to demonstrate a new and more sustainable way to fund community journalism in Maine.

We want to report Harpswell news and tell Harpswell stories. No other business or organization has this mission.

If a news organization that covers the Statehouse or Washington goes away, other organizations continue the work. When a newspaper like the Anchor goes away, no one does. The community loses its primary news source. The community becomes less informed. Its people become less engaged.

The people behind the new Anchor, a group with impressive talents and admirable dedication to this community, talks often about how they want the Anchor to serve as a unifying force in the community — between the islands and the Neck, the newcomers and those who have lived here for generations.

The best community newspapers do that — they both strengthen and unify their communities. We want to build the Anchor into the best small-town newspaper in Maine and with your support, I believe we can.

As leaders of this community, we want to hear from you about what you want from the Anchor and how we can work with you to strengthen and unify this community.

Thank you and have a good night.”

There was much laughter and conversation among the crowd, as it was the first time for many that they were able to meet each other in person. We at Harpswell News are very grateful for our Founding Sponsors support.

We plan to hold another event for our Founding Donors — those individuals who made a tax-deductible gift early on in the process — at a later date.