Summer’s ordeal

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 4, 2002

It’s been a long summer already and we’re just now getting to the hot part.

Here at the News-Herald we’ve been contending with building construction, management upheaval, intermittent computer and phone service and being short staffed.

But we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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We’re about two weeks from completing the renovation of our offices at 130 S. Saratoga St., and while things have gone reasonably smoothly – thanks to the efforts of Randy Hicks and his crew from HBA – it’s been a hassle nonetheless.

With lots of temporary phone and computer drops that have been in operation for the past six weeks, it seems like not a day goes by in which several of us are stranded without e-mail, Internet or telephone service.

All 21 of us have been packed into the back of the building during that time occupying what will be the retail advertising department when the work is completed. It’s only natural that with everyone’s personal space being regularly invaded that tension will arise. We’ve tried to abate it by making a weekly award of lunch for two to the person in the building who smiles the most and is the most helpful to his or her colleagues.

Our unisex bathroom is getting old, too. The women’s restroom was redone during the first phase of the project and we all had to use the men’s room. Now we’re using the women’s while the men’s is being tidied up.

We hung a sign on the door to let people know whether or not it’s occupied, but almost daily someone forgets to turn it and runs into some embarrassment. It seemed like it was occupied every time I approached so I’ve given up and now utilize the port-a-potty that HBA put up out back. I prefer it because nobody ever goes in there and you don’t have to be as careful as you do in a sparkling new bathroom.

All of the above has naturally taken a toll on the folks here. Spirits were beginning to sag a little, that is until last week when a couple breaths of fresh were welcomed.

Reporter Barbara Allen and her sunny disposition returned to work after a leave of absence for illness and hit the ground running. We missed her smile, willingness to pitch in and the vital contribution her stories are to the newspaper.

Also last week we welcomed aboard Rebecca Hill as advertising director. I’ve rarely seen such enthusiasm and energy and in just five days it seems to be catching.

Hill is the former marketing director for Charter Communications and a resident of Suffolk. Her husband Michael is a science teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School. She’s a talented professional and we’re fortunate to have her with our little newspaper. I expect she’ll make a huge impact on our business.

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And we couldn’t have gotten back to being fully staffed any too soon. With school and football season right around the corner and a new city council in place poised to do something to tick people off, it’s only a matter of time before things start hopping.

A major project we intend to undertake is a Sept. 11th anniversary issue. Our reporters will do stories on how events of that day transformed people in Suffolk. In addition, we are issuing an invitation to our readers to submit in their own words how the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 changed their view of the world. Please send submissions of 700 words or less to: Suffolk News-Herald, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, Va., 23239 – attention Stephen Cowles; fax to, (757) 539-8804; or e-mail, stephen.cowles@suffolknewsherald.com.

I hope you’ll help us produce a piece in which we can all take pride.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald.