Current rolls into year two with donations/subscription drive


FORT MADISON – Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary for the Pen City Current’s presence in Fort Madison.

Chuck and Lee K. Vandenberg started the news gathering company’s website on Dec. 5, 2016 and launched an e-Edition on Dec. 12 and are excited about the possibilities in the second year of operation.

Lee K. Vandenberg, co-owner and President of Market Street Publishing, the parent company of the Current, said the first year has been a learning experience and an opportunity to provide a still-emerging service to the readers and businesses in the area.

“Year one was a whirlwind and I don’t see year number two slowing down much,” Vandenberg said. “It’s been wonderful working with area businesses trying to help people get as much digital exposure for their business as possible, while we continue to grow ours. It really has been a challenge that we’ve welcomed.”

The all-digital news outlet has offered free subscriptions and donations subscriptions for the first year because Vandenberg wanted everyone to be able to read the news for free. While donation subscriptions and advertising have helped support the costs of the business, year two will offer a special feature.

Pen City Current is asking for a one-year subscription at a cost of $50 to help jump start year two. As an incentive for the donation, 15% of all one-year subscriptions will be used to create a scholarship program for local graduating seniors who have an interest in media communications studies.

“Since day one, we wanted to play a larger role in education and incorporating students into our news gathering efforts,” she said. “We’ve recently brought on board Ava Peitz, a student at Holy Trinity, to intern with us, and now we’re looking at creating a scholarship program as well.”

The donation subscription drive will run through Friday and Vandenberg said the goal is to sign on 200 annual subscriptions in four days.

Editor and co-owner Chuck Vandenberg said trying to expand coverage deeper into Lee County is something he wants to accomplish in year two and the subscription drive will help kick start that effort.

“We had many people ask us to extend coverage into southern and western Lee County. As much as we’ve tried to get to as many events in the county and cover as much schools, governments, and business in the area as we can, it’s a big area to cover.  This year we’d like to add another reporter on a part-time or possibly full-time basis to bring some of these newsworthy events into our readership.”

He said the four-day fundraiser will be indicative of the value area readers place in the product and help determine plans going forward.

‘We’re excited about our growth possibilities in year two and we think the news value, coupled with our different approach to advertising and marketing for our customers make us uniquely positioned for 2018.”

Vandenberg said some fun and valuable new products are planned for the new year, but wouldn’t elaborate.

“You’ll just have to come along for the ride. So…stay tuned,” he said.

To subscribe, simply click here and select the $50 annual option. There are several payment options to choose from, and $12.50 will be moved into a scholarship account.


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