A look back at nearly 25 years of local headlines
We’re especially proud of this week’s special supplement “Hammonton Headlines” which begins on page 25 of this week’s edition of The Gazette.
It’s an amazing trip back in time for anyone who’s lived here for decades. It’s an amazing introduction to the last quarter-century of the town’s history for anyone who’s recently moved here.
In the early days of the newspaper, figuring out what to put on the front page was especially challenging. Most of the staff was in their mid- or early-20s (or even younger!). While we had plenty of energy and ambition, a list of extensive contacts was still being created with each passing day.
One person actually asked me back in 1997, “What are you going to cover? Nothing ever happens here.”
The headlines still came, though. Early ones were political, as they often are in 2021.
Our first edition, July 2, 1997 had politics intersecting with an iconic local event.
“Governor Whitman speaks at annual Blueberry Festival” the headline ran at the top of the page.
While the headlines remained mostly in lowercase letters (unless it was the first letter of the headline, or someone or something’s proper name), there were exceptions, even early on, such as when Mayor Barbara Berenato was elected. The lead headline of that edition, dated November 5, 1997, read “HAMMONTON ELECTS FIRST FEMALE MAYOR” across the top of the front page.
Other headlines, like “Kramer Beverage opens” from January 23, 2002 and “Mario Lopez named Grand Marshal” from November 12, 2003 trumpeted news outside of politics.
As the years progressed, the letters of The Gazette’s lead headline grew, both in size and thickness, more often and eventually permanently. They were bold headlines for a town that was making more and more bold moves.
It was fun for us to search through the vast Gazette archive, with its hundreds of newspapers, and select the front pages you will see in this week’s edition. Looking at them reminded me of the many people, places, events and stories our staff has covered during the last 24 years. The big stories and their accompanying big headlines rolled out—and continue to roll out—week after week, month after month, year after year.
“HAMMONTON, FIRST” from November 9, 2005
“TOWN HALL OPENS” from May 7, 2008
“AtlantiCare breaks ground” from June 23, 2010
“NJM OPENS ITS DOORS” from February 2, 2011
“ST. MARTIN’S CLOSING” from October 19, 2011
“NEW WATER CONTAMINATION FOUND” from October 24, 2012
“STOCKTON’S GRAND OPENING” from February 6, 2013
“GIANNINI IS MISS N.J.” from June 17, 2015
The headlines keep coming through the years, and Hammonton—a town like no other, a place unlike anywhere else—was the backdrop for the front page headlines printed on page one of The Gazette.
In recent years, that unique character has shown up in headlines that you won’t find in other newspapers.
“SESQUICENTENNIAL!” from March 9, 2016
“47 BAGS OF SHRIMP STOLEN” from June 1, 2016
“DWI ON A TRACTOR” from August 5, 2020
“HAMMONTON HAMMERED” from August 12, 2020
This column may list some of the headlines, but the best way to view them is in their original format, the way they appeared in print on page one. That’s why I invite you to turn to page 25 and enjoy this week’s special supplement “Hammonton Headlines.” It’s an informative, educational and entertaining trip back through more than two decades of local history, as seen by the journalists and staff of The Gazette.
Who knows what headlines the coming years will bring? If the past is any indication, we won’t be running out of news to cover anytime soon.
Gabe Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.