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The goal is “to work with prospective buyers to save our local papers,” said state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat.
Mayor Art Ward said that he hopes the city will never find itself realizing how much the paper would be missed.
The Pennsylvania-based Journal Register Co., which has owned the papers since the mid-1990s, has told employees it will close the 13 papers on or soon after Jan. 12 unless a buyer emerges. There has been at least some interest by potential purchasers, though the likelihood of a sale remains unclear.
Last week, at the urging of seven Democratic lawmakers in Hartford, a group of legislators met with Joan McDonald, who heads the state Department of Economic and Community Development. They emerged from an hour-long, closed-door session at the legislative office building with optimism and a vow to try to lend a helping hand.
The officials said they have no interest in bailing out newspapers, but would be glad to work with potential buyers to make sure they know about existing programs that might offer low-interest loans, tax breaks and other perks aimed at retaining and attracting business in Connecticut.
Nicastro said that Ward and a representative from the Greater Bristol Chamber of Commerce should attend the next session in Hartford, which will likely be on or before Friday, Dec. 19.
Ward said that within City Hall, officials are beginning to recognize the magnitude of the loss if the paper folds.
“Every office in this building uses it” for legal notices, announcements, advertising and information, the mayor said.
“You use it more often than you would ever think,” Ward said.
“It’s vitally important that we protect the news,” Nicastro said. “For better or for worse, we need somebody to spread the word.”
Nicastro said that bailing out the troubled dailies is not an option, but there is a lot the state can do.
“We’ve got to do everything we can,” Nicastro said. “To lose a newspaper, it’s wrong. We need to protect our newspaper.”
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