Lake Okeechobee News: We’re stronger together

Newspaper merger planned for publications around Lake Okeechobee

In the pioneer days when new cities were founded all around Lake Okeechobee, newspapers were established to bring community members together.

In order to organize a new city, town or county, they needed a way to communicate with the people. The newspapers in Okeechobee, Clewiston, Moore Haven and Belle Glade/Pahokee were founded for that reason. For decades they have carried out that mission.

Times have changed, and the newspapers have changed with them, while holding true to their core mission to give community members the information they need to make decisions on issues that affect their families, homes and businesses. In addition to the print editions, the newspapers around Lake Okeechobee now have websites updated regularly throughout the week, reaching a broader audience than ever before and giving the readers more information than ever before. The publications also have social media pages that draw readers to the websites, and allow others to share website information through their own use of social media.

As the Florida population grows, it is more important than ever for those who live and work around the big lake to stay informed, to work together to protect Lake Okeechobee as a precious natural resource, and to protect our way of life. While the future of Lake Okeechobee is important to all of South Florida, the communities around the lake have a special and personal interest in protecting the Big O. The lake is essential to fishing, tourism and agriculture, the mainstays of the local economy. For some, it provides the water we drink. For others, it is the source of water to irrigate crops. The lake is home to native fish and wildlife and provides critical habitat for endangered species.

Each of the communities around the lake has its own local traditions and history. While there are some good-natured rivalries (particularly among the high school sports teams), the small towns around the lake have much in common. We share a rural lifestyle and a pioneer spirit.

Starting Sept. 12, the communities around Lake Okeechobee will also share a newspaper. The Lake Okeechobee News will combine the circulation of the Okeechobee News Wednesday edition, The Sun (which serves South Bay, Belle Glade and Pahokee), The Clewiston News and the Glades County Democrat. This larger around-the-lake publication will focus on issues important to all the Big Lake communities, while still including the local news important to each community.

The newspapers will continue to be newspapers of record for Okeechobee, Palm Beach, Hendry and Glades counties, meeting the Florida Statute requirements for the publication of legal advertising.

In addition to the print publication, we will maintain online web pages for Okeechobee, Clewiston, Glades County and the Glades, along with our social media pages, so that we can continue to provide news updates throughout the week.

Lake Okeechobee News

• The first around-the-lake edition will be Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018.

• Submissions from the communities are welcome and encouraged. We will maintain all of the current email addresses to make the change as easy as possible for current community contributors. If you already have an email address for the newspaper saved, you can continue to use that email address. Those who have not submitted news to the newspapers via email before are encouraged to send photos, press releases, community events items and letters to the editor to okeenews@newszap.com. All email submissions will receive a confirmation reply.

• The Lake Okeechobee News (a merger of The Sun, The Clewiston News, the Glades County Democrat and the Okeechobee News Wednesday edition) will be distributed weekly, on Wednesdays with a circulation of 10,000 in the towns around Lake Okeechobee — Okeechobee, Buckhead Ridge, Lakeport, Moore Haven, Clewiston, Belle Glade, Pahokee, South Bay and Canal Point.

• The Lake Okeechobee News Wednesday edition will be a newspaper of record in Okeechobee, Glades, Hendry and Palm Beach counties, following all regulations required by Florida Statute and the U.S. Postal Service. Since it is a merger of existing newspapers of publication, there will be no interruptions in legal advertisements.

• All advertising contracts for each of the merged newspapers will be honored.

• Advertising deadline for the Wednesday edition is noon Monday. (This is the same deadline we previously used for the Thursday editions of The Clewiston News, the Glades County Democrat and The Sun.)

• If you are already working with an advertising consultant with the Okeechobee News, The Clewiston News, The Sun or the Glades County Democrat, you can continue to work with that consultant. If you are not already working with an ad consultant, call 863 763 3134 or email okeeadsales@newszap.com to set up an appointment to discuss advertising options.

• The merged newspaper will be sold at all of the stores and newspaper racks that currently sell the Okeechobee News, the Glades County Democrat, The Clewiston News and The Sun.

• Current mail subscriptions to the newspapers will transfer to the Lake Okeechobee News. Subscribers will have the opportunity to opt out if they wish.

Publisher Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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