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Section changes to serve readers

March 10, 2003|by JAKE WORMER

For two months, I've run around Hagerstown without gloves or a hat, and the first without a winter coat, which at first - and second - glance seems fairly stupid.

But there's an explanation. A guy like myself, living in toasty Eastern North Carolina for nearly three years, felt no need to look like an Iditarod racer.

March 6 marked two months for me both living in Hagerstown and working as the Lifestyle editor at The Herald-Mail. I feel smarter, warmer and not at all comforted by assurances that this winter is wildly abnormal.

See, I've gone shopping. Got a hat, gloves, that coat - even a scarf. I'm braced for cold now. My hands have a nice desensitized, leathery hide on them. So, I'm ready ... and it's warming up.

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Well, fortunately, the people of Hagerstown have been kinder than Mother Nature.

As I walked to work the Monday after the blizzard, well-bundled residents nodded, waved and offered a hearty "Good morning."

That's the ease with which I hope readers keep in contact. Call or send e-mail. Feedback is essential to a community newspaper. The latest ode to the power of reader input is our revamped Sunday Lifestyle section.

In response to a 2002 reader survey, a Herald-Mail crew targeted the Sunday section. The Lifestyle staff - Kevin Clapp, Kate Coleman and Chris Copley - along with former copy editor Kim Bain, my predecessor Ginny Fite, graphic artist Ryan Harpster and Executive Editor Terry Headlee devised a plan to add content without subtraction.

Then, they met with focus groups, testing and retesting the changes.

Copy Editor Amy Dulebohn-Carr and I came on board just in time to snag some of the credit - and none of the blame.

You be the judge.

For a new biweekly feature on the Food page, we have reviewed three Hagerstown restaurants - El Ranchero, Junction 808 and Oliver's Pub & Restaurant (review on page E5). All of the writers returned with full bellies and easy recommendations.

Between reviews, Kevin has gone into the kitchens of Tri-State cooks to get the scoop on family recipes or new specialties for a well-received biweekly offering.

An expanded Out & About calendar begins on E1 with things to do today. Columnist Harlan Cohen dishes out his two cents on the Advice page. Joining him is Heloise, with a seventh day of handy tips. Computer know-how and home and garden tips join real estate on the @Home page. A restored version of our Travel page explores destinations near and far.

Items such as horoscopes have shifted within the 10-page section but continue to appear in their entirety. Crossword solutions are on a page separate from the puzzles.

Of course, that's just Sunday. We welcome input for Thursday's Out & About section, not to mention the rest of the week.

If you call, though, let the phone ring so I can hear you through the earmuffs. I've got them, and I'm going to to use 'em.




Jake Womer is Lifestyle editor of The Herald-Mail. If you have questions, tips or suggestions, call him at 301-733-5131, extension 2340, or send e-mail to jakew@herald-mail.com.

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