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Today's word on journalism

March 17, 2009

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1863-2009

"Can Seattle's oldest newspaper be successfully transformed into a child of the information age? The Northwest is a land of big dreams. With the demise of the Soviet Union, one quipster noted that Puget Sound is now home to three empires still bent on global dominion: Microsoft, Amazon.com and Starbuck's. If the stars align properly and with a quality product, Seattle will show the way to a new model for journalism of the written word."

--Joel Connelly, columnist, in today's final print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Editorial Comment: And when the newspapers die. . . .

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Logan is hoping for the best, planning for the worst in the face of possible job losses at USU

By J.P. Rodriguez

February 2, 2009 | As budget cuts may cause Utah State University to lay off several employees, the city of Logan feels confident regarding its preparation for this crisis.

"Anything negative at Utah State, I feel, affects Logan." said Logan Mayor Randy Watts in an e-mail. He added, "For the time being we are doing OK, but the length of the recession will determine our outcome."

"I think it will hurt the valley in general," said Rich Anderson, finance director for the city, in a phone interview. "The university is the major employer in the valley, and anytime they're laying off people, it is going to adversely affect us."

"There is a decrease in spending when people lose their jobs," explains Kirk Jensen, economic development director for Logan, and because of this," sales tax dollars diminish."

Compared to the last year, Logan has seen a 1 percent decrease from the previous year in revenue from sale taxes as of the latest figures in October. According to Anderson, the state's average loss of revenue is approximately 5 percent. He says these are rough figures.

"I think things will slow down a little bit more," says Anderson.

He estimates that for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends on June 30, Logan will have negative growth compared to the previous year. Anderson estimates this to be between 3 and 10 percent.

"We are always looking at ways that we can reduce spending and become more efficient," explains Anderson, "We've done that over the past."

Over the last few years Logan has been evaluating programs and positions as they became available, to find out ways to cut spending, Anderson says. One of the programs Logan cut this year was the vehicle replacement program. The city has also set aside money in a "rainy day" account.

"We built up our reserves as far as they can go legally," explains Jensen, stating that that number is at about 18 percent. He adds that the current administration has been very conservative in regards to its financial structuring. "At this point, we feel that we've been prepared for this economic downturn," assures Anderson. "We are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best." There are some positive things happening in Logan, according to Jensen and Anderson. "Building permits are showing a little bit of life," says Andersons. There are several projects in Logan both under construction or soon to begin. Among these are a new Walmart store and the development surrounding it, as well as development around a new hotel and conference center in town. Other new businesses opening soon include a Walgreens and several new restaurants.

"I think Logan, historically, and certainly that's the case now too, has typically weathered economic downturns pretty well," said Jensen. "You can describe the economy here as being somewhat resilient that way." He says Logan has a diverse economy, without extremely large concentrations of employment in any one sector, which he considers to be a good thing.

"I've always been an optimistic person and this will pass," says Mayor Watts. "We need to stay positive."

"I do think we have some positive things happening in our local economy," says Anderson. He believes there could be a "significant turnaround the second half of 2009."

In a related story, Utah State University students, along with students from other public state institutions of higher education, met for a rally at the state Capitol building Jan. 30.

The students wore there to encourage House representative and state senators to lessen the cuts which have been proposed for higher education. Thoes cuts could be as high as 7.5 percent for the 2009 year.

Snow College President Scott Wyatt said, "We are not the problem, we are the solution," as he addressed students regarding the budget cuts. Wyatt said the future of the state depends on having educated people, and that future depends on reduced cuts to the state's public colleges and universities.

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