Coastal Point celebrates a decade of local news

A decade ago, newspaper veterans Susan Lyons and Darin McCann joined forces and created what you are currently reading — the Coastal Point.

The first cover of the Coastal Point.The first cover of the Coastal Point.“Susan and I decided that the community needed a second voice. In order to give readers in the area the full picture, they needed to hear sometimes the same story told two different ways,” said Point Editor Darin McCann. “We decided it was something we wanted to look at. We looked for outside investors and found a group we were very comfortable with, moved ahead, and just went for it.”

But this creation is more than some paper and ink — it’s the product of a great deal of hard work and love. The independent weekly newspaper, which was founded in 2003 in Ocean View, by Lyons and McCann, along with a small investment group, sought to provide a true voice and information source for the Delaware beach community.

“My kids and husband convinced me to do it,” said Point Publisher Susan Lyons. “I can just remember my kids saying, ‘You’re always very stressed,’ ‘You’re not happy anymore,’ ‘You don’t like your job’ — because I always loved my job. It got to a point where it was always very stressful, and I wasn’t happy anymore. The kids said, ‘Mom, you need to be happy. You need to go start your own paper.’”

So Lyons set out to do just that, in the area where she had spent her entire life.

“The planning sessions I remember the most. Most of those happened around our kitchen table,” said Lyons’ son, Drew.

“My only word for the startup was ‘exciting,’” said Lyons’ husband, Andy. “It was a really big risk for Susan to take. There were a lot of different options, and they were all weighed out, and we came to this one. The excitement really overwhelmed the whole family. We were all behind her right from the start.

“She planned to succeed right from the start, and I had no doubt that she would,” he added.

Cape Gazette publisher Dennis Forney said he was not surprised to see Lyons start a newspaper.

“I had no doubt ever that she would be successful, because she’s community-oriented, tenacious, a very, very hard worker,” said Forney. “She knows good people and surrounds herself with good people, and that’s why, 10 years later, she had the distinction of being one of the community papers that has survived and is thriving and is serving her community so well.”

Coastal Point employees look up and into the future.Coastal Point employees look up and into the future.“When we finally sat down and came down to the crunch of starting this thing, it was fairly scary for some people involved. I don’t think I ever had a doubt it would succeed — ever — because of the people,” said Stewart Dobson, publisher of Ocean City Today. “It’s a job well done. It’s nothing that we didn’t expect.”

On Feb. 6, 2004, the first issue of the Coastal Point was printed and delivered to newsstands.

“It was surreal. We had been in that little office over Kool Bean, working long hours and really not seeing much of the outside world besides the six of us working on that paper,” recalled McCann. “To see people picking it up that first week was humbling, exciting, frightening and satisfying. Don’t get me wrong — we felt very confident in what we were doing, and we felt like we had assembled a great staff, but there was still a huge sense of joy, seeing people we didn’t know grab that first paper.

“To be honest, I still get that feeling every week when I see someone picking up our paper at the store or see people reading through it at lunch.”

Beth Long, who was the office manager when the newspaper first opened, said that even though the early days had their tough times, it was a wonderful experience.

“Darin and Susan were great, and we had a good time, but it was very stressful because it was a new newspaper and there were only five of us and everyone was doing everything. But it worked out well.”

“They took a chance on me, an untried college graduate out of Delaware Tech, and stuck by me, let me make my mistakes and learn from them and allowed me the chance to develop news writing skills,” added Sam Harvey, who was the paper’s first reporter.

“I had a great time. It was intense, and there were only a handful of us. We worked crazy hours and pulled the paper together by the seat of its pants. We got it out every week somehow. It was a great time.”

Carolyn Fitz, one of the paper’s first advertising representatives, said that, even though the first year was “crazy busy,” everyone loved it.

“It was a fun experience. We were the new local paper, with lots of energy and a great passion for the community — a homegrown paper,” she said. “Although I have moved on, I still read the Coastal Point (probably more now than when I worked there) and enjoy seeing that same energy and passion in the articles and columns that appear week after week. It’s hard to believe 10 years have passed.”

Advertising representative Susan Mutz, who also worked for the paper in its early days, was able to see how the paper grew during the brief time she left.

“When I first started and went to meet with clients, I would explain who we were and what our mission was,” she said. “When I came back five years ago and I went to see new clients, and people would say, ‘Oh, my gosh — I love that paper!’ People have really embraced the paper, and it’s been cool to see that happen.”

“It has grown a lot,” said Technical Director Shaun Lambert, who was Coastal Point’s first employee. “We have certainly seen a lot of face changes around here. I think we get better and better.”

Published every Friday since Feb. 6, 2004, the Coastal Point prides itself on being a free weekly newspaper that offers in-depth, locally-focused coverage of the events, information and experiences that are important to those who call this area their home, or their home away from home.

In its decade of service to the community, the paper has grown to cover Bethany Beach, South Bethany, Fenwick Island, Selbyville, Frankford, Dagsboro, Ocean View, Millville, Millsboro and beyond.

“It’s been phenomenal. Our first paper was 40 pages, and we probably should’ve been a little smaller,” McCann said with a laugh. “Now, sometimes I long for a 40-page paper.”

Of creating the paper, Lyons said that it took her and McCann back to what they first loved about the newspaper business.

“The little things, like dealing with people on a day-to-day basis. For me, it was helping to design ads. I’ve been in sales my whole life, and I’ve always enjoyed art. My parents, my dad, have always enjoyed art. We were always a family who enjoyed creating things — painting, doing crafts, knitting,” she said.

“I think we both still have a lot of enthusiasm for what we do, and you don’t always find that in everybody. That’s what we look for when we look for new employees: people who love the business as much as we do. I knew from the start it was going to work, because we put everything we had into it, mentally and physically. We had the right group of people who were as committed as we were.”

In helping to create the Coastal Point work atmosphere, Lyons said she wanted to take a “do what you love, love what you do” approach.

“We have highly creative people here. We’re going to work around these things to get the best product that we can get. I think it enhances us. I have one basic rule whenever we hire new employees: I want 100 percent 100 percent of the time. I think if you’re happy at what you do, then you do a good job. We want our employees to be happy. They’re going to write a better story, they’re going to design a better ad, because they enjoy what they do.

The creative work atmosphere hasn’t gone unnoticed by employees past and present.

“It’s a very fun, laid-back atmosphere, but it’s also serious, because we know that our job is important. She trusts us to do a good job,” said Mutz.

Art Director Bob Bertram said that Lyons gives the staff a great deal of free rein, resulting in a higher-quality product.

“I think she tries to encourage people to not only do their best work but stretch. She’s never completely satisfied. She wants us to push ourselves a little bit harder, to have the paper be more than what it is.”

“We’re very creative here. I rarely get told ‘no,’” said graphic designer Tom Maglio. “I’ve learned more here at the Coastal Point, in terms of my field, more than anywhere else. The only thing I could possibly want is to keep learning and to, hopefully, pay it forward and continue to make it a great paper.”

Along with creativity, Lyons and McCann have strived to have their staff connect with the community it serves.

“The newspaper really sits at the heart of the community here,” said advertising representative Kathy Jo Robbins, the most recent addition to the staff.

“I’ve lived here all my life, but I’ve never felt as involved as I do now,” said staff reporter Laura Walter, who grew up in Frankford.

“You’re writing about the community, for the community, and it makes it easy to be a part of the community — and that’s the coolest thing,” added sports reporter Tripp Colonell.

Not only do Lyons and McCann want their team to be creative, but they are willing to do anything and everything to help make the paper a continued success.

“I don’t think there’s anything she would ask us to do that she wouldn’t do herself,” said Mutz of Lyons. “When the paper first started, there were fewer employees than there are now. So everyone pitched in to do every job. It was nothing for Susan to proof a page or write something or design an ad. We all had to wear many hats.

“When you have bosses like Darin and Susan, who are willing to do everyone else’s job and see the importance of it, that’s how we put out a great product and how we learn to improve.”

In fact, many of the staff have said that the Coastal Point isn’t simply a job, but a second family.

“Working for the Coastal Point has a family feel,” said former designer Bobby Schaller. “Not in a ‘Get out of my room’ way, but more of a ‘cozy, working for a greater good’ kind of way.”

“It is cliché, but it really is like a family,” added former reporter Monica Scott. “Just like the marriage of advertising and editorial make a paper, Susan and Darin work great together and have a created a great chemistry with their staff. You just can’t have one without the other.

“A successful business starts at the top, and I believe the reason they have such a great product is they never lost sight of what they wanted to be. They set out to be the ‘local voice of your community,’ and they are. Week in and week out, they cover the news, arts and entertainment, and sports that people care about.”

The consistent quality of the paper is a direct result of the staff’s continued devotion to the paper, and to Lyons and McCann, according to advertising representative Jane Meleady.

“I think everybody that works here has a stake in the paper itself. Everybody looks at it as ‘It’s my paper,’ ‘It’s my Coastal Point,’” she said. “Even though I’m not the owner, I’m vested, and invested, in this newspaper, and so is everyone else who works here… Otherwise we all wouldn’t be here.”

The beginning of a beautiful friendship

McCann and Lyons had known each other professionally after having worked together at another newspaper. Although they both departed at separate times, they remained friends.

“In my career, I had worked with 18 different editors, and he was the one where we just really connected,” said Lyons.

“We know how each other thinks. We know what’s going to fly with each other and what’s not. We can disagree, but I know that, between the two of us, we will always walk away knowing we’re doing the right thing. It’s just a connection we have that I’ve not had with any other editor I’ve ever worked with.”

Although Lyons had started a newspaper before, then working for a large corporation, she said that starting the Coastal Point was completely different.

“This was a huge leap of faith,” she said. “Am I glad I did it? Absolutely.”

McCann has worked all over the country, from Georgia to California.

“He has ink in his blood,” said McCann’s wife, Jamie. “His grandfather was a newspaper editor.”

Lyons said that she and McCann make a good team in that they both can relate to the paper’s readership.

“With Darin coming from the D.C. area, he gives us a good perspective of the people who’ve moved here from a metropolitan area, and me having grown up here, giving the perspective of people who have lived here their whole lives — between the two of us, I think it gives the paper a good balance,” she said.

“I think he genuinely cares about the community, which is great. Some editors have tunnel vision, but he’s open to new ideas. He’s genuinely a good listener to the public when people come in with a concern. After many years of working in this business, he still has enthusiasm.”

News Editor M. Patricia Titus, who started working for the newspaper only six months into its existence, said McCann is a wonderful editor, as he not only encourages beat reporting, allowing reporters to build relationships with their towns and sources, but also gives reporters room to write stories the right way.

“Darin’s philosophy is to make the phone call, write the story ’til it’s done,” instead of setting word limits,” said Titus. “Susan knew who to talk to, and Darin has been very focused on being as accurate as possible.”

“He is a great teacher and very encouraging. He seems less like a boss and more like a friend that is in your corner — somebody who really wants to see you succeed and gives you the tools to do so,” added Scott.

“Darin was generally pre-occupied with his hair, as I remember, so I could fly under the radar and write about the stuff I found interesting,” joked Jonathan Starkey, a former reporter who now works for a daily newspaper.

Point photographer Chris Clark, who said McCann and Lyons hired him before he even owned a camera, stated that McCann does all he can to be fair and firm.

“He’s unbiased to the Nth degree. He’s not afraid to call it as he sees it or to speak his mind.”

Former Point reporter Ryan Saxton said that his first impression of McCann, during his job interview, was “stern and intimidating.”

“I was extremely appreciative for the opportunity. He was, after all, a Marine — albeit a very bald one — but a Marine nonetheless, who had a newspaper to run,” Saxton said. “I found out over time that he wasn’t the intimidating guy I first thought he was. He was driven when he needed to be, but was approachable enough to feel like a peer, rather than a boss, which made work feel like anything but.”

Robbins, who joined the Point staff in August of 2013, said that she and her family would vacation in the area prior to her joining the staff and always loved reading McCann’s columns.

“I have loved reading Darin’s editorials for years. You can’t help but feel like you know him from reading his column every week.”

“He can put a good article together,” said Shirley Cobb, Lyons’ mother.

Throughout the 10 years, the Lyons and McCann families have morphed together into one.

“Darin is just family; I look at him as a brother,” said Lyons’ youngest daughter, Emily Harne.

“He’s just been a part of the family. I look at him as a big brother,” added Lyons’ oldest daughter, Sarah Hoban.

“They are unbelievable together, the way they work. They make a pretty good team,” said Drew Lyons. “I’ve known Darin a long time. We’re really good friends; he’s my daughter’s godfather. There are a lot of jokes that he’s the ‘other son.’”

Family and community always the focus for Lyons

With their mother having spent more than 30 years, and counting, in the newspaper industry, the Lyons children have grown up around newspapers throughout their entire lives.

“I remember going to the printer sometimes with her and putting together the paper with light boards,” said Drew Lyons.

“It was fun. She had a lot of cool things to do at her office. The biggest thing I remember was the black room they had at the newspaper,” added Harne. “It was almost like a drafting desk, but it lit up from underneath. It was pretty cool.

“When they did ad design, it wasn’t always on the computer — it was done on paper with tools. So there were a lot of really cool paper-cutting tools and a lot of paper that we were allowed to do whatever we wanted with. There were a lot of scrap piles we could play with. It was like a craft fairyland.”

But no matter how the long hours, Lyons always made it a point to put family first, especially with her children and now five (going on six) grandchildren.

“Now that I’m a mom, looking back, I see how hard she worked to raise three kids and make it a point to be at as much as she could, which was a lot, and work the hours that the paper required, which was a lot,” said Hoban. “Now that I’m older and have my own family and work a 40-hour week, I realize now even more how much of a hardworking woman she is.”

“I think the biggest thing that we’re all grateful for as a family is that, as busy as she is, as hectic as her schedule is, as much as she has on her plate, she always makes time for the family,” added Harne. “She always makes it a point to be with the kids and grandkids. That’s probably the coolest part — that she can do everything that she does and juggle being still a very involved mother and grandma.”

Lyons said that raising young children in the industry was a difficult task and that she relied on the support of her husband, parents and friends.

“I can remember days trying to get three young kids off to school and being five minutes late to work and being screamed at by my boss, and I’d be there until 8 at night. It didn’t matter.”

In dealing with difficult work environments, especially for mothers, Lyons said she wanted to do things differently when she started Coastal Point.

“Flexibility, I thought, was key, coming from a very structured environment before,” she said. “I wanted to change and have more flexibility, because we work very strange hours. It’s not really a 9-to-5 business. When I first got into the business 30 years ago, women weren’t allowed to wear pants where I worked. We had so many different roles in the old days — how to act, how to dress, when to get to the office. Everything was so structured that it made it hard to be creative.”

Titus, who was first hired as a reporter for the paper, began copy editing when she became pregnant, and, like other Coastal Point children, her son has partially been raised in the paper’s office and in town council meetings.

“We very much, from Day 1, have been a family,” said Titus, recalling when employees jumped in on short notice to help Lyons finish planning a wedding or move the office to a new nearby location. “We all pitched in because that was what needed to be done. We had that much invested.”

Walter said Lyons is not only a role model for a woman in the industry with children, “but as a person who has taken such an active interest in the place she grew up.”

Having been born and raised in Sussex County, growing up on Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View, Lyons — then and now still referred to by some as “that Cobb girl” — knew she always wanted to stay local.

“There’s nothing better. I think that’s the best part of it,” said Lyons of having the paper cover the community where she grew up and raised her family. “I grew up here, and I really care about the place I live. I’ve had opportunities through Andy’s work to move other places, and we’ve never left, because I know there’s nowhere else I really want to live.”

Lyons started in the newspaper business in 1982 after Meleady called, asking if she’d like to apply for a sales position at a paper in Ocean City, Md.

“I was interviewed, and I didn’t get it,” Lyons recalled with a laugh. “Two weeks later, they called me back and said there was another opening coming in Rehoboth, and they wanted me to go there.”

Since then, Lyons has been an ad rep, advertising manager, general manager of three papers simultaneously, regional sales manager and now publisher — all in the coastal Sussex area.

“A key part of our community focus is Susan’s been here pretty much her entire life and really kept us grounded with what’s going on in the community,” said Titus.

Through her years living and working in the community, Lyons’ love and pride in her home has continued to grow in leaps and bounds.

“I think the biggest thing I love about it is how helpful everyone is. Whether it’s a tourist asking for directions or a family who gets burned out of their home from a fire — everybody does what it takes. Everybody truly wants to help each other. I think that’s what draws everyone to retire here: the friendliness, the openness, the giving spirit of this area.”

“She’s ingrained in the area,” said Drew Lyons. “She always wanted to do something here, where she grew up. All her kids are still here, all her grandkids. It’s her home.”

“I think it’s very important for her to stay and do what she does in the area where she was raised and in the area where she raised us, because she loves it. She takes a lot of pride in her community,” added Harne. “She shops locally and loves to be a part of everything.”

Every week, Lyons’ parents, Bill and Shirley Cobb, drive down to Hocker’s to pick up two copies of the Coastal Point — one for each of them.

“He’ll see people reaching for a paper and go, ‘That’s my daughter’s paper,’” said Shirley Cobb of her husband.

Bill Cobb, the only owner of a Coastal Point baseball cap, has even lent a hand to the paper, offering up his sign painting skills to create banners for the paper.

“We’re proud of her,” he said of Lyons starting the paper. “That takes nerve.”

“I think it’s great that she had that ambition,” said Shirley Cobb.

Harne added that Lyons taught her children to never give up, and to go for what you want and work until you get it.

“She’s so hard-working,” she said.

“She did a great job showing that family comes first and hard work pays off, and to follow your dreams. I think she’s living proof of that. I certainly can’t think of another woman who works as hard as she does and still puts family first, as she did with her children and as she does with her grandkids,” added Hoban.

“I think this is a huge achievement, because she has worked so hard to build this paper. She’s proud of it, and I know we’re all extremely proud of her for it. She’s an amazing woman, and I don’t know how she did it and continues to do it.”

Meleady, who has been friends with Lyons for decades, described Lyons as a “mover and shaker” who is involved with every facet of the paper.

“Susan Lyons treats us all individually as professionals. She allows us to work at our own pace, use our strengths, and helps us improve,” she said. “She helps us think outside of the box.”

“I think she is a highly creative, driven, caring person. She uses those talents to support and enhance our community in ways that benefit the greater community and, as a byproduct, enhances the paper,” said Clark.

“You couldn’t ask for better,” added Robbins. “It is very refreshing to work for someone who understands the community that she lives and works in and works to those needs first.”

“She’s always been successful. But she’s always more successful when she does what she wants,” Dobson said. “Successful independent papers are really rare — especially these days.”

During her career, Lyons has won numerous awards from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association; served many years with the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce; was named 2008 Chamber Business Partner of the Year; Lighthouse Award winner; inducted into the Indian River High School Hall of Fame; and recognized by Delaware Today magazine as one of Delaware’s most successful businesswomen. She’s also a member of the Barefoot Gardeners, Bethel United Methodist Church and Beta Sigma Phi sorority.

“We have known Susan Lyons for many years, as far back as grade school at Lord Baltimore,” said state Sen. Gerald Hocker, of himself and his wife, Emily. “Over the years, we have seen her as a leader in business, a leader in her community and one who cares deeply for the people who surround her. She is respected in the community and is very devoted to her family.”

“I think she’s probably the person who’s most in-tune with what’s going on in the community, whether it’s the social scene with the church and clubs or the political scene with Republicans and Democrats, local elections and local commerce,” he added.

“I have personally found the Coastal Point to be the most widely-read local newspaper in the Bethany-Fenwick area,” said George Cole, Sussex County councilman for the 4th District, whose family also has a number of businesses in the area. “We use the Coastal Point as a way of getting out our message. She knows her clientele. She knows when … I need to advertise.”

Owning a local antique shop, Cole uses the paper’s yard sales section to find hidden treasures, as does Lyons. And the two have a good-natured rivalry on Saturday mornings.

“My only complaint is Susan Lyons is an insider into yard sales,” Cole joked, having known the Lyons family for years and having children of similar ages.

“I think Susan and Darin have done a wonderful job with it. … The paper’s well respected,” said Rep. Ron Gray (R-38th). “People look forward to [reading] it each week. On Fridays, you’re looking for the Coastal Point. I always enjoy the photography in it. [You] try to get a flavor of the community, and the commentary is good, too.”

Just as the paper embraced the community it covers, it has been embraced by the community, as well.

“People used to call all the time, just to say how much they like the newspaper. I had never ever worked at a place where people would call to say, ‘Thank you,’” said Jane Johnson, the Point’s classified ad representative. “I was dumbfounded… I think the readers’ loyalty and advertisers’ loyalty speak to Susan and Darin,” said Johnson. “There is a tremendous loyalty in both readers and advertisers.”

“Rarely has a newspaper captured the essence of a community in transition better than the Coastal Point,” said Vance Phillips, Sussex County councilman for the 5th District. “With beautiful color photographs illustrating breathtaking landscapes, it is nearly impossible to walk past a freshly pressed stack of Coastal Point papers without picking one up. The topical articles provide insightful information about the people and places that make up our wonderful resort communities.”

Since 2005, Coastal Point’s advertising and editorial staff has collectively won 198 awards from the Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Press Association, all through peer review, and sometimes even topping the likes of the Washington Post and Baltimore’s The Sun.

“We’ve got the best of both worlds,” said Titus, “appreciated by our peers and our community.”

Along with the weekly newspaper, the Coastal Point also publishes freestanding publications, including the quarterly Going Green on Delmarva magazine; a special publication dedicated to the Senior League and Big League Softball World Series held in Roxana; “The Storm of ’62,” reflecting on the 50th anniversary of that legendary nor’easter; and “At Your Service.”

The staff is also in the midst of a series of special feature publications covering the past, present and future of the area’s local towns.

Dobson credited the paper’s success to Lyons and McCann, for knowing, and living in, their market.

“It has been a killer newspaper from the day it started. I mean, it really has. It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be, does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Obviously, the audience has responded to it… The key to a success is you’ve got a local team producing a local paper, where they get to decide the best thing to do for their readers and advertisers.”

McCann said that, although he and Lyons receive credit for what the paper is today, it would not be possible without the staff that has graced the Point throughout the past decade.

“Susan and I get kind of labeled as this being ‘our paper.’ But we’ve been so fortunate to have the employees we’ve had over the years,” added McCann. “From Sam and Beth helping us get off the ground, as people we knew previously; Shaun, who helped us from designing our initial logo to this very day, still doing the technical side.

“Everybody who has come in here has put their stamp on the paper in some way, and I think we’re better for everybody that’s walked through these doors.”

“I think we’ve had one of the greatest staffs I have ever worked with,” added Lyons. “I am thrilled to have two IR graduates on our editorial staff. I think nothing is better than when you can have reporters who have lived in this area their whole lives. That’s a huge plus for us. Everyone loves Chris’ photographic eye, Tripp has been a wonderful addition, and there is nobody more thorough than Tricia. I think we just have a wonderful editorial staff,” said Lyons.

So how do Lyons and McCann plan on celebrating 10 years, and 521 issues, of the paper?

“Probably put another paper out,” said McCann. “That’s kind of celebration enough.”

“Ten is not that big to me. In the world of newspapers,” said Lyons, “we are still a fledgling. It is a milestone for us, and I take that seriously, but I’m still thinking about what we’re going to do next year. I’m just looking ahead.”

Lyons said the paper’s staff is constantly looking for ways to improve, through its content, design and even niche publications.

Looking toward the future, Coastal Point continues to seek innovative ways to reach the community — not only in its print edition but also through social media.

“I think that the sports’ Twitter account is cool, because it allows people to follow the game without being in the stands,” said Colonell of the relatively new @cpointsports handle. “If you can’t be there in person, you can still find out what’s going on, as it’s happening. Of course, nothing’s quite like reading the full story in print — but being able to get the score and some highlights in real time helps us keep our readers informed up to the minute.”

“As the trend goes toward the Internet and paperless, it’s exciting to see the Coastal Point buck the trend,” said Kami Banks, president of Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of Banks Wine & Spirits, of the paper’s continued physical presence on newsstands.

“At the same time, the Coastal Point sees the importance of the Internet and social media and uses that to their advantage, as well. The Coastal Point truly supports the local community, and we are fortunate to have such dedicated professionals serving our area.”

Since its inception, Lyons said, the newspaper was well-received by the community, and she hopes to continue that good relationship into the future.

“The community embraced us right from the beginning. That gave us a lot of feedback, and they have been very supportive of us. I can’t say thank you enough to our advertisers. Their support means everything,” said Lyons.

“It’s been tremendous,” added McCann. “The community support has been more than what we could’ve ever asked for. I say that from our readers, from our advertisers, from the people we cover who have been extremely cooperative with us. I really think when you’re in a small community, people root for the other small businesses.”

The staff said they it always makes them feel good to hear readers and advertisers praise the paper, but sometimes the best compliments are anonymous, from watching people grab the newest issue to strangers recommending the paper to Point employees.

“It means a lot to be able to go out and get your hair cut or to the grocery store and see somebody with us under their arm,” said Maglio. “It makes you feel connected. Seeing people reach for us every week makes me want to do a better job.”

Saxton, who left the paper two years ago to move to Australia, said he still misses the paper — whose signature compass rose he sports in permanent ink — and, more importantly, the people that made it possible.

“It didn’t feel like a job. Yeah, there were assignments, games and meetings to get to, but the Coastal Point was, in fact, ‘the voice of your community,’ just as Darin and Susan had meant for it to be. Working there was as natural as talking about what was happening in town — the summertime events, the town council decisions, the game that unfolded under the Friday night lights. Today, Coastal Point continues to provide its readership with exactly what they want in a local paper.”

“Of course I miss it,” added Jaime Ellis, who was a graphic designer for the paper for five years, “the daily jokes and hanging out with all the guys. Every day was a challenge, with a new project.”

Bertram, who wrote three letters to Lyons and McCann before he got an interview at the paper, said that he was a fan of the paper before he was hired. He said the paper’s thoughtful and unique approach set it apart.

“It seems to me when you pick up a copy of the Coastal Point there’s more content, there’s more substance. Whether you’re interested in it or not, it’s hard not to know what’s going on if you pick up a copy of the Coastal Point,” he said. “It’s real genuine meat-and-potatoes, and it’s well written.”

Lyons said that, looking to the next decade, she hopes to keep the paper local and keep it focused on the community.

“I’d like to continue to grow in the same direction that the community grows,” added McCann. “If there’s more of a family presence in the area year-round, then I hope we become more of a family-oriented newspaper. If it’s more of a retiree community that we see, I hope we cater more to the retirees’ needs.”

“You look at something like Justin’s Beach House. You look at the VFW packing up goodies to send overseas. You look at the Chamber of Commerce and how many volunteers they have going out to ribbon-cuttings. It’s just a community that genuinely roots for itself to succeed. And we have the opportunity here every week to champion that cause.”