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By Bruce Battaglia

On Tuesday, Aug. 31, we loaded our computers, files, chairs and desks onto the back of a borrowed truck and, with the able assistance of two strong young men, Matt and Mike, completed our office move into the Niagara Business Center at 1625 Buffalo Avenue by the end of the day.

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The crew from Wisprnet had our wireless Internet service up and working Wednesday morning. Having Internet service is critical to us. Without it, we could not put out a newspaper.

The telephone company came through big-time and had service installed by the end of the day Thursday.

Telephone and Internet service, computers and software, all linked together, are the tools of the newspaper business. They are as essential to us as a scalpel is to a heart surgeon. Without the tools of our trade, we would be out of business.

To keep our newspapers coming to you free every week, we need cash. We get cash when we sell advertisement space in the Reporter. We mail out invoices to our advertisers and they mail their payments back to us.

Up until the day of our move, getting the advertisers to pay us in a timely fashion was priority No. 1. Once they dropped that payment into the mail, it would then find its way to our office within a day or two.

But since our move back in August, my biggest challenge -- and it's a challenge so far that we are losing -- is to convince the Niagara Falls Postmaster to provide daily mail delivery service to 1625 Buffalo Avenue.

Now I'm sure you're thinking, why would this be so difficult? After all, this is Niagara Falls, N.Y., not Hialeah, Fla.

And that's exactly how I thought until I had a conversation with the Postmaster.

He told me that 1625 Buffalo Avenue is a dormant delivery site, that it is not part of a letter carrier's route and that, even if he had a letter carrier to bring us the mail, he wouldn't do it, because 1625 Buffalo Avenue does not have a drop-off mailbox and, after all, there are government regulations that must be followed.

Exasperated, I told him that 1625 Buffalo Avenue was the former world headquarters for the Carborundum Company and that certainly mail had been delivered there in the past.

And why couldn't the carrier just bring the mail into the building and deliver it to our office like they do at the Niagara Office Building?

Can't do that either -- something about government regulations, he said.

Feeling as if my options were quickly dissipating, I suggested that, in lieu of mail delivery, I would come to the Main Post Office and pick up our mail.

Can't do that either without a caller's permit, which would cost us $900 to obtain, the Postmaster said.

It was now time for me to play my trump card.

I told the Postmaster that my father was a letter carrier and please could he cut us a break, that by withholding daily mail service the Post Office has caused us more distress than all our adversaries combined -- which, among others, include the largest chain of newspapers in North America plus Warren Buffett, the world's second richest man.

Realizing that I was not going to change the Postmaster's mind with my common-sense rationale, and that he was indifferent to the dire consequences that no mail service would have on our financial health, I signed up for a Post Office box at the Falls Station, No. 987, at a cost of $90 for one year.

And that's what it is all about, folks -- money.

The Post Office picks up $90 and eliminates the cost of delivering mail to our business office. Meanwhile, there are letters out there addressed to us at 1625 Buffalo Avenue, as well as to our old address at 345 Third St.

Who knows when and if we will ever get them?

I have both good news and bad news.

The bad news is for us and the good news is for you, the readers.

First, the bad news.

We received notice from our printer, Buffalo Newspress, that the cost of paper to print the Reporter is going up again. Over the past 18 months, the cost for newsprint has increased near 25 percent due primarily to rising energy costs.

A few days later, Independent Health notified us that the cost of our employee health insurance will increase near 30 percent as of Sept. 1.

Now the good news for you, the readers.

Even with rising costs, the Niagara Falls Reporter will still be free. Now is that not news worthy of celebration?

Several readers have expressed their thoughts concerning advertisements we've published for the Portage House, a licensed adult night club. The ads typically feature a photograph of exotic dancers in various poses.

Some see the ads as demeaning to women and have asked us not to run them at all. Other readers recognize Portage Houses's right to advertise but would like to see the photography in the ads toned down.

We've talked this over here at the Reporter and have come up with a "public beach" standard for such ads. If the dancers are suitably attired for a public beach, then they're suitably attired for publication in the Reporter.

Larry DeLong, the Portage House owner, is one person not complaining. Business is up since he launched his provocative advertising campaign this summer.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Sept. 21 2004