FAIRFIELD ? Those who have dropped by The Ledger lately have noticed something different. It?s moved!
It didn?t move very far. In fact, the staff are now in a building next door to their old office, in a space that once held the press room.
The Ledger made the move a few days before Christmas, and ever since the employees have been getting acclimated to their new surroundings. Ledger client specialist Alice Watson said she ?loves the new office? and described it as ?fresh.?
She liked the fact that all employees have dual computer monitors at their desk, which was not true before the move.
LeAnn Nolte, a sales representative who has worked at The Ledger for 30 years, said moving into the new office was a big change. She said the new office is smaller because The Ledger doesn?t need as much space, given that it stopped running its press in December 2016 when the company was purchased by The Cedar Rapids Gazette, and all printing has been done in Cedar Rapids after that.
The old office space also had a dark room for developing film, but with the advent of digital cameras, employees had not used the room in years.
?The part we?re in now has been part of The Ledger all along,? Nolte said. ?We used this space to store back issues.?
Nostalgia for the old
Nolte said she?s glad the business only moved next door instead of across town, which made the transition easier on the public. For those wishing to send mail to The Ledger, its address is now 114 E. Broadway Ave.
?I like the new place, but I?ll always have a bit of nostalgia for the old place because I worked there so long,? Nolte said.
Advertising director Sherry Jipp has worked at The Ledger 17 years. She said she has a larger work area in the new office, and feels she can concentrate more easily because of how the cubicles are divided.
?The new office has a nice feel to it,? Jipp said. ?It?s laid out well. I don?t have any nostalgia for the old place. I?m very happy to be here.?
Ledger sales coordinator Riverose Griffin said the new space is ?awesome? and that the change is significant. Having worked for The Ledger close to nine months, she said she didn?t develop an attachment to the old office like other employees did.
Lifestyles editor Vicki Tillis has worked at The Ledger since 1996. Moving was bittersweet for her, because while she liked the freshness of the new office, she was sad to leave so much history behind. Tillis was nostalgic not so much for the building itself but rather its contents: troves of books, newspaper clippings, old photos and undeveloped film from decades ago. Some of those records were moved into the new office, and others were donated to the Carnegie Historical Museum because there was not enough space for them.
Beth Ruckman works in production where she designs ads and other graphics. She?s worked at The Ledger 29 years. She remembers the days when the newspaper was pasted together by printing out the stories and photos, running them through hot wax, and sticking them onto a pasteboard. Now the newspaper is laid out entirely on the computer.
Sports editor Justin Webster said the fact The Ledger moved only one door to the east nicely symbolized both its continuity and willingness to make improvements.
?The Ledger has been and will be here for a life time serving Fairfield and Jefferson County,? he said. ?With the move and upgrades, it shows the community that we are adjusting with the times.?
Once The Ledger ceased printing in Fairfield, The Gazette realized it no longer needed such a large office space. The Gazette informed Fairfield Economic Development Association executive director Joshua Laraby in April 2017 of its desire to sell the building and then rent a portion of it.
Laraby contacted Chris Johnson of Johnson Real Estate, a company that owns a few hundred thousand feet of office space in Fairfield and Maharishi Vedic City. Johnson has made a habit of restoring old buildings, and he liked what he saw when he visited The Ledger. He spoke with Ken White, a property manager for The Gazette, who recommended remodeling one side of the building and moving The Ledger employees there.
The remodeling included new carpet, fresh paint, dividers to create cubicles, new bathrooms, a break room and conference room. It also included new computers and phones.
?We are happy with it,? Johnson said. ?Ken and [Ledger publisher] Amy Sparby were pleased with it, too. In terms of a contemporary office space, it?s as good as almost anything in town. It?s a nice space.?
Ledger employees finished moving their belongings from the old building in January. Johnson said he?s working on several other projects, but within a few months he expects to start renovating that office space, too.
?In [the old building], we?ll renovate it in a classic style like we?ve done with other old buildings in town by either refinishing the hardwood floors or putting in new floors,? Johnson said. ?We?ll preserve the character as much as we can. We?ll probably convert it into three office spaces, since it?s unlikely that one single user would want that whole space.?
The second floor of both buildings once housed apartments, and Johnson said he plans to renovate them, too.