Jim Hemig: What a great year
The years seem to come and go. Some are better than others. And some are simply amazing.
This year was one of those amazing years. My time at The Union has been both one of community support and company direction setting.
I felt an overwhelming sense of pride when The Union’s management team stood on stage with me as we accepted the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce “Business of the Year” award. Ad Director Julia Stidham, Audience Development Manager Elizabeth Baldwin and Editor Brian Hamilton are the folks who truly lead The Union’s organization. Receiving local recognition among over 500 great businesses was definitely a high point.
On a state and national level The Union newsroom earned 12 statewide journalism awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and 13 from the National Newspaper Association.
Hard to top that effort.
However special the awards may be, the best part of 2015 was supporting our community. And this year was a doozy.
I was able to participate in generating over $75,000 toward local nonprofits. I got to dance for the Center for the Arts, clean up community roads and parks with Anew Day, raise breast cancer awareness with Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation and help refurbish bathrooms for the Neighborhood Center of the Arts.
The Union also sponsored more than 100 community nonprofit groups by supporting their events and advertising them with more than $160,000 in advertising dollars in 2015.
But it’s not only about the money raised. Helping support nonprofits and people in need is fulfilling. I, and others from The Union, served food at Hospitality House, bagged food at Interfaith Food Ministry, rang the bell for Salvation Army and even hosted a town hall meeting on homelessness concerns.
Supporting the community is a passion and an important part of The Union’s business model. Our slogan is “Great People Connecting Communities.” I feel we accomplished our goal of connecting communities.
Along the way this year I also got to meet some great people.
Sheriff’s Captain Jeff Pettit showed me how easy it was to round up all the equipment necessary at local hardware stores for those who make illegal honey oil. I rode along with Grass Valley Cpl. Brian Hooper, Officer Jesse Cloyd and the Grass Valley Police Department on a laundromat drug bust. I searched for aliens with a North San Juan resident and chased ghosts around Grass Valley and Nevada City with another reader. I drove a Meals on Wheels route with local business owner Kathy Hillis, wandered around the old Lake Olympia resort site with Jim Moule and got “black boxed” with an anonymous friend. I was able to be on a live, old-style radio show, compliments of KVMR General Manager Steve Baker and introduced Lotta Crabtree to an eager crowd awaiting The Union’s second documentary movie. Most recently, I tramped around in the mud at the old Spring Hill mine site and proposed location for Grass Valley’s latest shopping center with local resident Steve Enos.
From the newspaper company side and my job as publisher, 2015 was a direction-setting year.
Yes, I outsourced the printing and eliminated The Union’s TV guide. Both efforts truly helped establish The Union’s path for the next 10 years. The printing change allows The Union to focus resources on moving deeper into the digital age. More effort than ever before is going into systems and people to grow readership through the Internet. And it’s working. The website, TheUnion.com, is now averaging more than 130,000 unique readers and nearly a million page views per month. That is a lot of people reading The Union’s stories online. And the TV guide change created a bit of a stir for 200 subscribers and prompted The Union to deliver another, and reportedly better, TV guide, making these readers happy.
We also added a new community emergency text alert system and a week-in-review email newsletter and conducted a widely popular readership survey.
The great folks at The Union are the best and most talented group of people I have ever worked with. A positive, constructive and forward-looking team of people aimed at making our customers happy every day. I’m proud of their efforts and know they will continue to be successful in bringing news and information to western Nevada County for years to come.
All this in one year. Great people connecting our community.
This holiday season, I hope you can also reflect back on 2015 as an equally fulfilling and exciting year. And speaking on behalf of the staff at The Union, we hope you have a great 2016.
To contact Publisher Jim Hemig, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4299.
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