There was a fair amount of developing local news Friday, with a young man badly hurt in a fall at a Rockport quarry, and fallout continuing from Thursday’s long overdue declaration by the federal government that the Northeast groundfishery is indeed an economic disaster.
Yet, our top-of-the-page news story this morning is one that I could have told you was coming even last week.
There was nothing surprising about the fact that city officials and others formally broke ground Friday morning on the $3.5 million “renewal” or renovation and reconstruction project. The event had been been planned and essentially choreographed for several days, with community leaders like Mayor Carolyn Kirk, state Sen. Bruce Tarr and state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante joined in the ceremonial event by Gloucester High’s fall sports captains and retired football coach and longtime teacher Paul Ingram.
Still, the story appears today with photos as our top news story.
So, was the Newell groundbreaking the biggest news story of the day? And if it wasn’t really breaking news, per se, why would it appear as such?
In other words, why would your community’s newspaper do that?
Look, the Newell groundbreaking may not have been surprising news. But in my mind, it was, in many ways, the most significant news story of the day, and that certainly qualified it for the top-of-the-page play it gets in this morning’s Times.
That’s because this project — a classic, and some might suggest rare, example of precisely how a public-private partnership can come together — has seemingly touched virtually every Gloucester family, resident and/or business since it was launched through the Gloucester Fishermen’s Athletic Association over the last three years.
Just about every man, woman and child in Gloucester, first of all, has either participated in and/or attended an event at Newell Stadium, which is designed to host GHS football games and other sports events, the soccer tournaments in St. Peter’s Fiesta, and, lest anyone forget, the school graduation ceremonies as long as the weather man cooperates.
Many residents have also noticed the stadium’s declining condition in recent years, from the sinfully crumbling track to the lack of usable rest rooms and the increasingly bowed metal bleacher seats. And all of that has made this a project with which people have connected since Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association leaders and tireless activists Jonathan Pope and especially Dick Wilson first began pursuing it three years ago.
Between the GFAA’s innovative 1,000-by-1,000 giving program — with an estimated 1,000 individuals pledging and donating $200 a year for five years for $1,000 gifts, and a $1 million total — and through larger-scale revenue sources, like New Balance’s $500,000 donation for field naming rights and significant boosts from the likes of BankGloucester, Cape Ann Savings Bank and Gorton’s, among others, thousands of Gloucester people have not only felt some attachment to this project, but have had a direct hand in its success. And the fact that the city has bonded $1.5 million for the project makes it a point of interest for every taxpayer as well.
All of that makes the Newell renewal effort a community project — and thus a community news story — like virtually none other. And to that end, the fact that officials and organizers have reached the point of breaking ground shows this project has reached a point that many may not have seen as reachable just a few short years ago.
Not every lead story needs to be urgent, breaking news. In some cases, a day’s lead story can indeed be the story that involves or interests the most people in our community. And that was the case with yesterday’s Newell Renewal groundbreaking.
As always, let me know what you think.
Questions? Comments? Is there an issue you’d like to see addressed in a future column? Contract Times Editor Ray Lamont at 978-283-7000, x3438, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.