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The Gazette team is eager to begin an exciting new year

Have you broken your New Year’s resolutions yet?

It’s only January 3, so if you’re struggling a little to make those small changes in your life, keep working hard.

People often make resolutions because the start of a new year offers the chance to make a change. For those of us at The Gazette, our time to make changes came last June.

That’s when our former publisher and editor-in-chief made the decision to leave the newspaper. The days and weeks immediately after their abrupt departure were tough ones for our staff. We made a few mistakes, stumbled some, but eventually regained our footing and have been able to produce what I feel is a solid newspaper every week, one that serves the Hammonton community well.

One of the criticisms I heard a lot in the early weeks of our transition was that the paper wasn’t Hammonton’s anymore, that too many of the staff weren’t from town or no one knew who they were. We had lost some writers and some advertisers.

I am the lone staff member who has been with The Gazette from its humble beginnings back in July of 1997. My name has appeared in a byline in every issue this paper has ever printed.

I have worked in Hammonton for more than 26 years. I spend more time in this town than in my own. Many would say I’m an adopted Hammontonian, and it’s nice to feel like I’ve become a very small part of this community.

A lot of folks in town know me, so I figured I’d give a brief introduction to the rest of our team here at The Gazette, my team, if you will.

I’ll start with MarySusan Hoffman, our lead graphic designer. MarySue is the reason I stayed here when others opted to leave. She is the heart and soul of this newspaper. A life-long Hammonton native, she knows the pulse of the town like no one else on our staff. We would be lost without her. I call her my “work sister,” as we’ve shared an office for close to two decades and she is the MVP of our staff.

Next is Jaime Wuillermin, our office manager. She wears many hats. Jaime was only on our staff a short time when we faced the huge new challenges presented to us in June and she has risen far above what any of us, herself included, could have expected. No one on our staff has seen their role change as much or taken on more new responsibilities than Jaime. And she has been spectacular.

Both Jaime and MarySusan live in town, they’re both great moms and wives and I’m fortunate to know and work with each of them.

Kristin Guglietti was a former member of our staff who moved to North Carolina for a time, then returned to South Jersey and rejoined our team. Kristin is an energetic young reporter who has taken on some big assignments and always provides solid coverage of local meetings and events. She has a quirky personality that I enjoy—she always makes me laugh, like on Mondays when she calls in her lunch order for spicy tuna rolls.

Mohammed Fuad is our other reporter. Mo, as some of us call him, takes criticism well, and he has heard his share of it from a town that isn’t shy about expressing its opinions. He recently went back to being one of our top reporters, giving up the editor position. He remains dedicated to helping produce a great product for our readers each week.

Keith Dawn came in to take over as our interim publisher back in June and has been a blessing for us. I was told to watch out for Keith, that he would make drastic changes that would impact my job. Some tried to create the perception that he was some evil overlord, but that could not be further from the truth.

Keith brought a calming influence to a nervous staff early on and he guided us in the right direction. Without his leadership, I’m not sure I’d still be here on the staff. He has left us to return to his former life and we are the better for his contributions. I’m fortunate to call him a friend.

Finally, there is our new publisher, Craig Richards, who introduced himself in this space a few weeks ago. Like Keith before him Craig has brought a renewed energy to our staff and his ideas and vision of the future of this newspaper have ignited a fire in our staff. I look forward to working with him on making this the best local newspaper in New Jersey.

Craig and his wife, Tammy (who is wonderful), recently moved to Hammonton and from what I can tell, are falling in love with the town and the community.

Some may know that my all-time favorite movie is Hoosiers. Early in the film, there’s a scene where the school is holding a pep rally for the start of the basketball season. Fans are booing because the team is without its best player who has opted to sit out.

Gene Hackman, who plays the coach, Norman Dale, steps to the microphone and tells the crowd to stop jeering the team.

“Cheer for who we are, not who we are not,” he suggests.

He points to his players and says, “This is your team.”

This, Hammonton is your team. It’s one I’m proud to play on and I hope you’ll root for us.

Happy New Year.

Dan Russoman is the sports editor of The Gazette. Follow Russoman on X @DanRussoman.


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