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Gazette to close Easthampton bureau, Monday last day

The decision is a sign of the times, as more newspaper readers submit community notices, letters to the editor and pay bills online with their computers and smartphones, said Publisher Jim Foudy.

“The amount of foot traffic coming in over the last few years has really diminished,” he said. “Technology has changed how we work and so there’s really no need for a physical office anymore, or not in the same way.”

The Gazette tried for about a year to find a tenant to share the space, but when that effort failed, Foudy decided not to renew the lease.

News reporter Rebecca Everett and Keri-Ann Aubin, who handles news clerk duties and was the longtime officer manager in Easthampton, are both moving over to the Gazette’s main office at 115 Conz St. in Northampton. The paper will continue to cover Easthampton government, schools and other community events — in fact, both Aubin and Everett live in Easthampton. “There’s really no change in operation except we won’t have a physical presence there,” Foudy said.

Foudy said the paper has worked out an arrangement to house a drop-box across the street at Big E’s Foodland where customers will be able to pay their bills, submit letters to the editor and pass along community notices. The box will be locked and checked by newspaper staff daily.

The paper has located its bureau in different locations in Easthampton over 40 years, including Cottage Street. Prior to that, a correspondent ran a de facto bureau out of his home for some 30 years, where he would take community notices and other items from residents.

In addition to its headquarters in Northampton, the Gazette operates a bureau at 9 East Pleasant St. in Amherst. Foudy said there are no plans to close that office.

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