When The Citizens’ Voice started 40 years ago, it had dedicated employees, companies advertising with the new paper and four unions sticking together.
None of that would have mattered if it hadn’t been for someone else — you.
Locals who subscribed to the new endeavor gave it an audience and made it viable.
Here are some subscribers who have been with us since its beginning:
Ann Bergold subscribed to The Citizens’ Voice when the paper was first born, and she’s been reading it for 40 years.
Bergold knew people going on strike and wanted to support them, and she was a union member herself. Tactics like the erection of a barbed-wire fence around the former Times Leader building and the hiring of Wackenhut guards helped convince her she had made the right decision.
She appreciated seeing a piece about her daughter joining the Navy and the announcement for her 50th wedding anniversary. Lately, she has been following coverage of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s grand jury report of sexual abuse at six Roman Catholic dioceses.
She likes reading a paper copy each day, and mostly uses the website only to check obituaries.
Her only complaint — she preferred the original tabloid format to the current broadsheet style.
Gloria Engelhardt and her husband subscribed to the local newspaper wherever they went during their careers in the U.S. Army. They moved to the area in 1968 and, soon after, had two options. For years, they received both papers.
Around the year 2000, her husband started having trouble walking. He called both papers to see if they would deliver each morning’s edition to a basket on his porch. Only The Citizens’ Voice agreed to do it, Engelhardt said.
“If you guys would have said no, my husband would have said the same thing, but you said yes and that was marvelous,” she said. “The Citizens’ Voice still puts the paper on my porch.”
The early years of The Citizens’ Voice became a family affair for the Kashatus family of Glen Lyon.
They knew people starting the paper, and Tom Kashatus was a member of the correctional officers union, so they subscribed.
Family friends asked if they wanted to take over their paper route soon after the paper’s founding. Three of the Kashatus children — Lynne, Tommy John and Jeremy, then 14, 13 and 10 or 11 — shared the route. When Lynne left for college, Jonathan, another of the children, took over her spot.
They started with about 40 subscribers. By the time Jonathan graduated high school, he was delivering to 120 households around Glen Lyon.
They started the route between 6 and 6:30 a.m. so they could get to school on time. Their mother, Marge, helped them by folding the papers each morning.
One of the biggest stories for the paper during its early years was a report on the murders committed by George Banks in 1982. The late-breaking story delayed delivery the next day.
They also had to collect payment and handle billing. It was like a small business each child was responsible for.
“That was the best thing they could have done at the time, “ Tom Kashatus said “It was very important for their life.”
A commitment from employees at the fledgling newspaper has stuck with Walter Klepaski for nearly 40 years.
It was about a year and a half after the newspaper strike had begun, and he had just started a job as the AFL-CIO community services liaison with the United Way of Wyoming Valley. Jack Wallace, a courthouse reporter at The Citizens’ Voice, walked into his office.
“Walter,” Wallace said. “We don’t have payroll deduction or anything like that, but I went around and (from) those who made a commitment for a donation, this is what I collected.”
He handed over donations from employees who had made pledges prior to the strike, and kept visiting each month with what he could gather for the community organization.
“This is when they’re still a striking newspaper and struggling to get a firm foothold,” Klepaski said. “To me, that showed a lot of character and a lot of fight and a lot of compassion people had for their community.”
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-821-2051; @CVBillW