Community, business leaders celebrate improved paper

Business and community leaders gathered Monday at Blaine’s Victory Links Golf Course to celebrate the new and improved Blaine-Spring Lake Park Life.

Last week, the Life’s circulation was increased to 16,500 newspapers.

The publication officially became a free, carrier-distributed newspaper serving both north metro cities.

MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce President Lori Higgins lines up for a putt. A putting contest on four holes tested participants’ skills in sinking a putt with a traditional putter, a croquet mallet, a hockey stick covered with newspapers and a pool cue stick. The contest at the Victory Links golf course at the National Sports Center in Blaine was part of a kick-off party to let the business community know about the new ECM-Sun Newspapers initiative in Blaine and Spring Lake Park. Photo by Eric Hagen

MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce President Lori Higgins lines up for a putt. A putting contest on four holes tested participants’ skills in sinking a putt with a traditional putter, a croquet mallet, a hockey stick covered with newspapers and a pool cue stick. The contest at the Victory Links golf course at the National Sports Center in Blaine was part of a kick-off party to let the business community know about the new ECM-Sun Newspapers initiative in Blaine and Spring Lake Park. Photo by Eric Hagen

The launch party at Victory Links was hosted by the ECM-Sun Media Group, ABC Newspapers and the Blaine-based MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce.

The late afternoon and early evening event included appetizers, music, a putting contest and brief greetings from company and community representatives.

ABC Newspapers General Manager Tom Murray provided a short welcoming address. Attendees were also greeted by John Connelly, director of sales and development at the National Sports Center (NSC).

Connelly is a MetroNorth chamber past chairman and serves on the organization’s board of directors.

Blaine and the NSC jointly manage the multi-use building and clubhouse at Victory Links, which also serves users at the nearby Blaine Soccer Complex.

Connelly said the NSC campus includes the Schwan Super Rink, an eight-sheet arena that’s the world’s largest ice facility, a 10,500-seat soccer stadium, the Schwan Center meeting and convention building; a multi-faceted golf center, the National Youth Golf Center, the Victory Links course, an indoor Sports Hall, a 150-bed residence hall and 52 soccer fields.

The NSC is operated by the National Sports Center Foundation (NSCF), a wholly owned non-profit organization, Connelly said.

ABC Newspapers and Shopper General Manager Tom Murray talks to MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce President Lori Higgins  about the new Blaine-Spring Lake Park Life. Photo by Tammy Sakry

ABC Newspapers and Shopper General Manager Tom Murray talks to MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce President Lori Higgins about the new Blaine-Spring Lake Park Life. Photo by Tammy Sakry

Chamber President Lori Higgins recalled growing up and reading the Coon Rapids Herald, another ABC Newspaper, as well as being interviewed by Managing Editor Peter Bodley.

Higgins said community newspapers were important to keeping MetroNorth chamber members informed about various business news and events.

Blaine Mayor Tom Ryan and Spring Lake Park Mayor Cindy Hansen said that the Life remains key source of community news for out-of-state residents during the winter months.

“Don Poss, Blaine’s former city manager, can’t wait to get his paper,” Ryan said.

Hansen shared a similar story with attendees about a resident who called her about a city issue after she read about it in the Life.

Marge Winkelman, chief operations officer and president of ECM Publishers, the Life’s parent company, told attendees that the recent changes to the weekly newspaper were a direct result of the January 2012 merger of ECM Publishers and Sun Media.

Prior to last week’s distribution and circulation changes, many residents in Blaine and Spring Lake Park were receiving up to three papers from the merged media company.

The “new” Life combines best parts from the former Sun-Focus and current Anoka County Shopper, and merge them into one key source for local community news and advertisements, Winkelman said.

Tim Hennagir is at tim.hennagir@ecm-inc.com


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