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J-R calls all citizens to ‘exercise right to know’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 May 2014 at 12:00 am

Final issue of newspaper is more than a commemorative piece

The final issue of The Journal-Register includes a picture of former Publisher Alonzo L. Waters, left, and pressman Bill Knuth, shown here in the 1950s.

MEDINA – The final issue of The Journal-Register is more than souvenir or nostalgic piece as the newspaper printed its final edition on Friday after 113 years.

The paper issued a call to action to residents, urging them to “exercise your right to know.”

Managing Editor Joyce Miles expressed her disappointment with Shelby and Ridgeway town officials for missing a deadline to fulfill a Freedom of Information Act request from J-R reporter Howard Balaban.

He sought information on the towns’ expenses for a PR firm and attorney in the towns’ push to fight an effort to dissolve the village of Medina and shift some services to the towns. That would push up the tax burden in the towns, while cutting the cost for village residents.

Balaban sought all expenses from the two towns for a “Cares and Concerns” hotline, and other print, electronic advertising for the hotline. He also sought the expenses for three mailers that were sent to residents in Shelby and Ridgeway from the two Town Boards.

His FOIA request also sought copies of written and email correspondence from the town officials as it relates to dissolution, consolidation or political campaign.

The towns missed the legal deadline for providing the information. The final issue of the J-R and the newspaper’s website includes the full FOIA request. Miles urges residents to submit their own requests for the information. Orleans Hub hand-delivered its request for the information at both Town Halls on Friday.

“I feel personal outrage at the way Howie has been treated,” Miles said on Friday.

The final issue of the paper is mostly a commemorative edition with reflections from readers, current and former staff about the publication and its role in community life. Miles said she wanted to honor the paper’s long history in the community, and its faithful readers and dedicated employees.

Miles started as a reporter with The Journal on Sept. 4, 2001. That was the day a Medina police officer, Mike Russell, was shot and wounded while on duty. A week later, the country was under attack by terrorists.

She would later shift to the Lockport Union Sun & Journal. Last September she filled the dual role of managing editor for both the Lockport and Medina newspapers.

Miles said she is a “public policy nerd” and enjoyed the dissolution issue. She supports further discussion of the issue and would like to see village residents have a vote about the issue.

“I’m sorry we’re leaving just when things are starting to get interesting,” she said.