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The most-asked question in Milford today is, "Why?

As in, "Why wasn't Police Chief Tom O'Loughlin's contract renewed?"

On September 17, the Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 to not renew the chief 's contract. O'Loughlin basically wanted a contract extension allowing him to continue in his job a few more years until he hits the mandatory retirement age of 65.

O'Loughlin has been chief for 16 years and is enormously popular with Milford residents. Until there is a credible and acceptable public explanation from Selectman Will Kingkade and Selectman Bill Buckley on why they voted against renewing O'Loughlin's contract, everyone will speculate what their reasons were.

The various speculations already are flying fast and furiously around town and on social media.

Unfortunately, that explanation probably won't be forthcoming soon, since the chief has hired a lawyer and selectmen will now have to defer to their attorney for comment.

O'Loughlin has hired former Mendon Police Chief Ernie Horn to represent him – the same lawyer also representing Jimmy Heron in his fight about being demoted from deputy chief to sergeant. Clearly, we're all in for a wild ride over the next few months as this all plays out.

The only hints the public has, came in a March 26 letter to O'Loughlin individually signed by all three selectmen that expressed "disappointment" in the chief.

Making this even more interesting is Article 32 of the town's By- laws, which calls for the formation of a 12-member Police Chief Selection Review Committee within 30 days after the chief was notified that his contract isn't being renewed. That basically means the committee needs to be in place by the end of this month.

And, with a Special Town Meeting taking place on Monday night, I expect – even though there's nothing on the warrant about this issue – that at least a few Town Meeting Members will find a way to comment on the non-renewal of O'Loughlin's contract.

On a completely different topic, I attended a seminar in Keene, New Hampshire last month on how smaller newspapers can survive and thrive in today's media environment. One of the best take-aways from that forum is that small community newspapers like the Town Crier are the only segment of the print newspaper business that is thriving and growing.

One of the top reasons that's happening? Community newspapers provide "content" (I detest that term!) that you

can't find anywhere else – not on TV, the Internet or in larger metropolitan newspapers. Another reason is that local ownership is more trusted than large, purely profit-driven conglomerates that own most of the country's daily newspapers.

Most community newspapers, the Town Crier included, survive primarily on the advertising revenue from local businesses, which means the local newspaper demands on local people supporting local businesses to keep going.

Community newspapers are thriving in certain parts of the country, but – particularly in the mid-West where the economy is not as robust – there are "news deserts" as local newspapers close their doors.

It's nice to live and work in an area that supports local journalism.


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