For years, says Councilman Wendell Coombs, the old Murray Eagle - better known as the Green Sheet - was the place local residents looked for those tidbits of community news not found in the large daily newspapers.
The Eagle circulated at minimal cost to every home in the city, and you could read about everything from neighborhood kids becoming Eagle Scouts to city news, meeting notices and church callings.The problem, Coombs observed during a City Council session Tuesday night, "is that the paper went downhill from there."
But now the paper is in the process of being sold, and the new owners are pledging a return to the community journalism that made the Green Sheet an institution among Murray residents.
They're also asking the city to make a $26,000 commitment, buying a page of advertising in the first 26 editions of the newspaper to help it get rolling financially.
Jeffrey B. Hatch, one of the three buyers, told councilmen he and his partners intend to put the first edition of the New Murray Green Sheet into every home in the city some time in April.
Hatch was president and general manager of KUTV from 1988 to 1995, and was also involved in the management of the Ogden Standard-Examiner for many years.
Other partners include City Councilman John Ward, a lifelong Murray resident and former Deseret News reporter, and advertising executive Brian Kearney.
Ward did not participate in the discussion Tuesday because of a conflict of interest.
"We will focus the Green Sheet 100 percent on Murray news," Hatch said. "It's strictly for the news you can't get elsewhere."
The new Murray newspaper will be published weekly, and circulation will be free, he said.
Hatch said the three partners are buying both the Murray Eagle and the Valley Eagle from local publisher R. Gail Stahle.
To help the new paper remain on an even financial keel at the outset, he said, the new owners are seeking "founder sponsors" who will commit to buy advertising for the first six months.
"Without Murray's financial and moral support," Hatch added, "we're going to have a difficult time making this a full success."
Council members endorsed the idea of a revitalized Green Sheet and appeared open to the idea of replacing the city's current quarterly newsletter and other mailings or ads with a weekly news page.
But Councilman Gary Ferrero said the decision on whether to reallocate city funds for advertising is an administrative issue rather than a legislative one.
Mayor Dan Snarr said the proposal is being evaluated by city staff, which is looking at more than just financial feasibility.
"We're still reviewing this to see what information we can make available . . . and how much space it will require," Snarr added.
Coombs suggested the city could use the page to recognize local youth and their accomplishments.
"I would like to see this succeed," added Ferrero, who said he would like to see city council agendas printed along with information that would support the arts.
Other council members complained the Murray Eagle, which now circulates to about 2,000 paid subscribers, has deteriorated to the point that a recent edition did not contain any Murray news on the front page.
Hatch said the old owner has "given up" on the Eagle and has been operating on a shoestring to minimize his losses.
The revitalized Green Sheet will be circulated to all residents, he noted, and produced with state-of-the-art personal computer-based technology that will keep production costs low.