Flipping through the delicate pages of the very first publication of Community Life from October 1933, current Community Life editor Nadine Cloutier laughs slightly as she points out an announcement concerning newly installed screens on schoolroom windows.
"Fly spray has also been provided in most of the districts which helps reduce the number and keep the children more comfortable," she read with a laugh. "Isn't that amazing?"
Helping to chronicle and preserve Hartland's history for 80 years this month, the Community Life newspaper, while continuing its original purpose of informing the community, has now also become a rich source for historical information and documentation.
"I can go back 20, 30, 40 years and see exactly what was happening in any month," she said. "It's become an invaluable resource."
From school updates, community news and notes from local organizations, the small paper was a lifeline for many families living in the rural area and played a large part in helping to form the Hartland community.
"He (J. Robert Crouse) thought the best way to get the news out and make the Community Project a success was to communicate with all the homes," Cloutier said.
Eight decades ago, 400 homes in the Hartland Consolidated School District received their free copy of Community Life as source of local information. Today, the readership includes more than 18,000 homes and continues to be a free service provided by Hartland Schools, funded in part through grants from the Heartland Foundation and Hartland Schools Foundation, as well as advertisers, donations and subscriptions.
With only seven editors over the past 80 years, the paper has maintained a sense of tradition, history and community and while some changes have been made to the look, content and feel of the paper, the basic concept has remained the same.
Keeping up with the times and age of technology, in 2009, Community Life went full color and is uploaded monthly to the Hartland school website, in addition to the printed format mailed to homes.
The longevity of the newspaper is a testament, according to Cloutier, of the power of Crouse's simple idea that was meant to connect a community and keep them informed.
"It's so important to keep the history of Hartland and how we got here alive and Community Life has been such an important vehicle to allow this to continue to happen," Community Education Director Michelle Otis said. "We are fortunate to have this community newspaper to share the happenings of this awesome community."