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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Looking forward to covering the town’s next chapters

The Hammonton Gazette is celebrating its 25th anniversary. (Courtesy Photo)

Wow. That pretty much sums up how I feel about this week’s edition. When I started typing this column it was 4:26 p.m. on June 27 and The Gazette team was feverishly working on this amazing 136-page edition.

Team. It is the culture we have worked to develop over the course of 25 years.

Each member relies on the other to complete the edition. And each team member has a valuable role to play within the organization.

Now don’t ask me what sport we are playing, that is a question better asked of Gabe Donio or Dan Russoman.

Although some weeks, it feels like a blood sport.

The Bible (let’s go with the New American Standard Bible) tells us, “A prophet is not dishonored except in his hometown and in his own household.” (Matthew 13:57).

And boy is that true some weeks. Why didn’t anyone tell us this in 1997? Asking for a friend.

Another way to look at it comes from a Sicilian expression that loosely means that everybody knows the truth but nobody wants to hear it.

We have printed the truth for 25 years. It has made us popular in some sectors (for about a week) and unpopular in others (for a lifetime). Don’t believe me? Ask around.

At the end of the day, we have to print what happens and it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.

When I began this job (as a summer position) in 1997, I knew nothing about Hammonton.

But I fell head-over-heels in love with the community. I could see the potential in our downtown which had numerous vacancies. Each person I met was a true character. Each day was a new chapter in the novel of the story of Hammonton. As an avid reader, I couldn’t wait to learn more and get to the next chapter.

I have learned so many lessons in my 25 years as an editor of this newspaper. My compassion for my fellow human has grown. Life is not as black-and-white as I once thought at 20.

Some things are still the same. “No” is a complete sentence and not the starting point of a negotiation. Integrity matters. The quality of your relationships matters more than the quantity.

Everyone has a story. You can be as rich as Midas or as poor as Annie in the orphanage, there is always a story to tell.

I want this newspaper to tell all the stories of the people of Hammonton.

While I love this town unconditionally, it doesn’t blind me to some of its faults. Just like my husband, Gabe, isn’t blind to my small personality failings after nearly 17 years of marriage.

Crime happens here. Is it New York City-level or Philadelphia-level? No, not often, thankfully.

Are people with obsessed political power? Yes. It’s the same everywhere.

People live, die and do great and small things in that time. Tragedy hits our community too. We are not immune despite the bubble that often seems to cover our town. Each year, I know more people and I feel each loss of someone I know deeply.

When I moved here, I wanted to make Hammonton better. I didn’t want to change the town’s inherent core values of family, community and faith (pick a faith, any faith). If you really love someone, you don’t want to make them over completely.

I never understood people who get married and then want to over-haul their partner? Bring out the best and help them improve in areas that they feel are deficient is a much more natural way to be in my opinion.

In Hammonton, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The current leading party, both on the local and county levels, is holding onto its majority tightly on each level. I hope it is not so tightly that they strangle their lifeline. The school district may be embarking on a large building project, so stay tuned.

James Bertino and James Curcio are still in elected office (although different offices). I have watched their children grow up during the years. Some are older than I was when we began this newspaper.

John Runfolo still leads the way for the Blueberry Festival. Cruisin’ MainStreet continues to make me wish I owned a vintage Mustang. Evelyn Penza still dishes out wisdom from behind the stove at the Red Barn Cafe.

I want to take a moment and thank all of our readers. It is for you we print and will continue to print this newspaper each week. Thank you for holding our feet to the fire.

To our advertisers, I have the deepest appreciation for your continued support. Some of you have been with us for almost the whole journey thus far. We will continue to work to bring you business.

If you are not a fan of this newspaper, thank you for reading this far. I appreciate you too.

Thank you to Gabe, Dan, MarySusan, Kristin, Sean, Joseph, Jessica, Betsey, Jenn and everyone who makes coming to work a pleasure.

My heart is very full this week. I cannot wait to see what the next 25 years brings aside from a stronger prescription for my glasses.

Gina Rullo is the editor-in-chief of The Hammonton Gazette. In 2022, she was named an “Editor Extraordinaire” by Editor & Publisher Magazine and in 2021 won two awards for investigative journalism.


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