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Young publishers keep tiny village informed

December 27, 2001

Young publishers keep tiny village informed



Welsh Run, Pa.

By LAURA ERNDE
laurae@herald-mail.com


Once a month, teenagers Lillie Ostoich and Emily Cradduck spread out with some blank pieces of paper, a couple pens and a bag of chips and start calling their neighbors.

At the end of the day, the hand-written notes and stories they have collected will fill the next issue of the Welsh Run Kids News.

Dubbed "the paper" by local residents, the newsletter has kept residents of this tiny village in touch with each other for the last three years.

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"I like to think of it as a big hug," said Ostoich, 13.

They hand-deliver the four-page newsletter to about 100 homes. Another 20 copies are mailed to friends and family members as far away as California.

In an age when many people are too busy to get to know their neighbors, the newsletter has brought people together, said Lillie's mother, Beth Ostoich, who takes care of the layout and the printing.

Residents of this rural town at the crossroads of Pa. 995 and Mercersburg Road are divided by artificial boundaries. Those on one side of the village have a Greencastle address and those on the other have a Mercersburg address.

People had also tended to associate only with members of their own church.

Robert Kennedy Memorial Presbyterian Church, built at the crossroads in 1741, has become Welsh Run's unofficial meeting place for residents, whether they worship there or not.

Villagers always know when someone new moves in. They are informed when someone has a baby, takes a trip or gets a new job.

In October, the girls interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Fox, who had moved into the "big Victorian home next to the Kennedy Church, where Mr. and Mrs. Butterfield used to live."

"They moved here from northern Virginia near Dulles Airport. They liked Welsh Run because it is quiet and in the country," according to the story, written by Lillie and Emily.

An earlier issue gave the community an update on Blossom the pot-bellied pig.

"Though she was a baby a year ago, she is now 30 inches long and weighs 50 pounds. She loves to eat snow, oranges, and pears. At mealtime, she always waits for grace before eating," said the story written by Cradduck, 14.

The most controversial issue they ever tackled was a telephone survey on whether President Clinton should be impeached. Local residents were split.

They have called children in the community to ask them about what they're learning in school, whether their room was clean or messy and how they spent summer vacation.

When they go door to door delivering the paper, neighbors often offer compliments.

"We've been told over and over they read it cover to cover," Beth Ostoich said.

Before they started the newsletter, the girls used to write made-up stories and send them back and forth to each other.

One day, they got the idea it would be fun to create a real newsletter and deliver it to people within walking distance.

The first issue was a single page, printed on both sides with stories that were only two sentences long.

Although the paper has grown in size and popularity, it's still free to residents of the village. Mailed subscriptions cost $5 a year for postage.

To cover the cost of printing, the girls take donations and sell small advertisements for $1 each.

Lately it's gotten harder for the girls to find the time to edit the paper because they're involved in so many activities at school and church. Cradduck goes to Broadfording Christian Academy and Ostoich attends James Buchanan Middle School.

When the paper was late, people called to ask when it would be delivered. The girls vowed to keep it going.

"The paper's become part of our life," Lillie Ostoich said.

"If we didn't do the paper you would feel empty," Cradduck said.

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