EDITORIAL: Maskless is clueless

WE HAVE A BIRD’S EYE VIEW of what has to be the hottest dine-out scene in all of Columbia County. I’m talking about the Moondog’s food truck parked across the driveway next to our office in Ghent.

The items on its chalkboard menus include a variety of sliders, french fries alleged by the owner to be the best in the region—a boast you won’t want to challenge once you taste them—“Ghent cheese steak,” multi-fruit lemonades and now soft ice cream, all at a price you can afford, literally. The sign on the window counter says it all: “PAY WHAT YOU CAN. IF YOU CANNOT, WE UNDERSTAND AND ARE HERE FOR THE COMMUNITY.”

The Moondog’s staff couldn’t be better neighbors. As you’d expect the operation is all take-out; there’s no place to eat-in except for a couple of socially distant picnic tables on the lawn where the truck is parked. So far, what has played out in front of our window has the feel of a time-lapse recording of the food truck’s popularity. It started in the chilly April rain, when an occasional car would cruise down the driveway as the occupants warily checked out the menu. Choosing a new place to eat isn’t simple in the age of the virus. Read more…

EDITORIAL: We’re back

THIS THING YOU’RE HOLDING in your hand; it’s a newspaper. You remember. (If you’re reading this online, just imagine a screen you don’t have recharge every night.)

For 10 long weeks we had only our website to bring you news of Columbia County. That digital exile reminded us how many of our neighbors still can’t afford high speed access to the internet. There are countless other local stories we want to share with you. But we had to wait more than two months to resume publishing those stories in print. And with your generosity, this is the day we can say: We’re Back!

The work of sustaining a print newspaper in the 21st century now begins in earnest. But first I offer a huge virtual hug to all of you who contributed to our appeal when we were on the brink of folding. What you did and how fast you did it stunned me. You had many worthy causes seeking your help as the pandemic and lockdown weighed on us all. And yet you made room for aid to The Columbia Paper. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Time to vote smart

SCHOOL DISTRICT ELECTION reminders are a spring ritual for this newspaper and others. After a while you get the sense that one paper’s stories on budgets or candidates could easily be swapped with those of a different paper, with no one being the wiser.

Editorial writers I’ve known wouldn’t do something like that for fear readers might prefer the other paper’s writer. And this year it wouldn’t work because everything is so different. Or is it?

Let’s start with voting. You’re planning to go to the polls for your school district election, right? Wrong! By executive order of the governor, everyone who votes in the June 9 school budget referendum in all of the 732 public school districts around the state has to vote by absentee ballot. If you live in Columbia County you should already have received an absentee ballot and a postage-paid return envelope from the school district where you live. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Who will feed the hungry?

IT’S ANYBODY’S GUESS what images will endure as icons of this pandemic. If, for a moment, you can bear to focus on which photographs already stand out, surely medical caregivers at work rank among the most wrenching. But other photos, though they seldom convey the emotion of mortal struggles, also lodge in our memories.

Think of the metaphors: empty streets, onlookers socially distancing as they cheer first responders, the faces of isolation, truck trailers pressed into service as morgues, people refusing/ignoring/forgetting to wear masks. Now add to the list the lines of cars.

Some are lined up so the occupants can be tested for the coronavirus. Others await whatever food is offered. The lines for virus tests were the first to grab headlines because they accompanied stories on the testing scandals. And then came the longer lines that stretched for miles, with drivers inching sedans, SUVs or pickups toward free food distribution sites. The first reports came from the South and a few cities in the Midwest. Then New Jersey. They were distant enough to encourage a false sense of security here. But this week the line formed at the entrance to the Columbia County Fairgrounds in the Village of Chatham. Read more…

EDITORIAL: We’ll be right back

A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO we had only enough money to keep our columbiapaper.com website going a few more weeks and the print edition was on ice with little hope of revival. Then we asked for help and you gave it to us. And now there’s a twist.

In our appeal, which annoyingly covers much of the first page of our website, I wrote that “our efforts to obtain government loans and private grants have so far been unsuccessful.”

That was true until Monday evening when I received an email that, at first glance, made me suspect it was a scam. But our tech advisor said it passed the spoofing test, which is tech talk for it’s okay to open. The email said Google has selected The Columbia Paper to participate in a program called the Google News Initiative Journalism Emergency Relief Fund: https://newsinitiative.withgoogle.com/journalism-emergency-relief-fund Read more…