- Associated Press - Friday, August 12, 2016

HARDWICK, Vt. (AP) - The owner and publisher of a weekly newspaper is extending an essay contest to find a new owner for it after failing to get enough entries.

Ross Connelly had hoped to get at least 700 essays from which to pick a winner to own the Hardwick Gazette but said Thursday that he had received fewer than 100 since the contest started June 11.

The entry fee is $175. Contestants are expected to write up to 400 words about their skills and vision for owning a rural weekly newspaper in Vermont.

Connelly announced in the newspaper on Wednesday that he was extending the contest by 40 days.

“Besides garnering a number of excellent essays, the contest to this point makes a strong case there are people in this country and elsewhere who recognize the importance of a community newspaper, and have the skills and drive to be successful running one,” he wrote.

The deadline to enter is Sept. 20.

The winner would assume ownership of the newspaper and its historic building, equipment, website and proprietary materials needed to operate the business. The newspaper is printed offsite at a press not owned by it.

Connelly and his late wife, Susan Jarzyn, bought the newspaper in 1986 after moving to Vermont from Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. She died in 2011, and he has said he would like to retire.

He had been unsuccessful selling the newspaper so he came up with the essay contest.

If he doesn’t receive at least 700 entries, he’ll refund the entry fees. He also has the option to extend the contest another 20 days.

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