This True Story Reveals The Meeting That Gave THE SENTINEL Its Name and Why It Got That Name

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Yes, you’ve heard part of this story. In fact, you probably think you know this story. Or, do you only think you know this story?

Bits and pieces have appeared throughout the years. Some of these have been true, others mere rumors meant to delight and excite the mind of the reader.

But this – this column – will for the first time reveal what really happened that dark winter night in January of 1989. Here it is, for the first time ever told by the one who was there at that meeting.

First, here’s the part that’s true. You already know this part. Or you may not. Here it is.

The Honeoye Falls Weekly Times began publishing during the era of hometown newspapers in 1882. “Independently Devoted to the Best Interests of Honeoye Falls and Vicinity” and running a dense seven columns over four pages, it was published and edited by William O’Brien and Wilson A. Gillette.

The fledging media entrepreneurs admitted in their inaugural op-ed (Thursday, August 31, 1882): “This is the first number of the Honeoye Falls Weekly Times. As to whether it is a readable paper for a first issue, remains for our readers to decide.”

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle offered a less than charitable opinion of the effort. Its edition of Friday, September 8, 1882 bluntly stated: “Honeoye Falls has four newspapers and only three steam whistles. One of the newspapers is printed in an adjacent village, to offset which the latest fledged paper has an adjunct at Scottsvllle, the ‘Spectator,’ of that village being issued from the office of the Honeoye Falls Times.”

So it was with the D&C’s disdain for our community, so it will ever be.

Oddly, though, the short-hand name used by the D&C must have struck a chord. After a nearly two-year hiatus and a restart under a different layout, O’Brien returned to his original 7-column spread but adopted a new name: the Honeoye Falls Times.

It remained thus for nearly a century more until “Fearless” Rick Gagliano bought the illustrious paper from Dorotha Bradley in March of 1987. The provocative publisher of Rochester’s Downtown magazine brought back the original Honeoye Falls Weekly Times name along with the subhead “Independently Devoted to the Best Interests of Honeoye Falls and Vicinity.”

Less than two years later, in January of 1989, Gagliano unceremoniously folded the paper (along with sister publication The Lima Recorder). That’s when our story really begins.

Here’s the part of the story that dispels all the rumors:

Yes, I saw the reaction of the paper’s readers. The community had a huge void. But the opportunity would be fleeting. I knew we had to move fast to fill that void.

Now, who’s the “we”? There wasn’t a “we” to start. I realized this was something I couldn’t do by myself, so I turned to the person I felt had his hand on the pulse of the community: Mendon Supervisor Jack Leckie. He introduced me to the now unemployed Weekly Times columnist Shirley Arena. We quickly agreed to create a new paper.

But what should we call it? Shirley wanted to call it “The Honeoye Falls Times,” but I reminded her, as far as I knew, Gagliano still retained the rights to that name.

I actually liked that name and would have used it – within one change – if I were confident we could. It harkened to The New York Times, which at the time was still a universally acclaimed daily paper.

Now, here’s the part of the story that reveals how – and why – the name The Sentinel came about:

Shirley and I never really talked about a name beyond not being able to use “Honeoye Fall Times.” I was left to cogitate on the possibilities without any real sounding board.

One evening, early in January, I hosted an Executive Committee meeting for computerAccess at my house. As the name implies, this group catered to all that pertains to the realm of computer geeks. (Yes, I was a proud member of that club.)

Here’s the thing about computer geeks: they spend their lives solving gnawing problems. And I had one doozy of a problem. What should we call this new newspaper?

There we were. Huddled around my kitchen island. Me, Mike Ciaraldi, John Elberfeld, Neil Resnikoff, and Orest Mankewski (apologies to Orest, I could never remember how to spell his name). If I could pick a team of perfect brainstormers, this would be the team.

Of course, they asked why we didn’t name it “Honeoye Falls Times.” Of course, I explained the legal concerns. But then I added the other concern I had. “We don’t just serve Honeoye Falls.”

In trying to describe our reader base, I mentioned the HFL School District as the core. “Why don’t you call it the ‘HFL Times,’” they suggested.

Well, that still had the problem of using “Times,” and “HFL” itself had a problem – it left out a huge component of the footprint, namely, the Town of Mendon.

It quickly became clear our name had to cater to the “Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima” population.

That got our brains churning in terms of “three.” First came the thought of calling the paper the “Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Triangle,” but figured Bermuda already had this brand name nailed down.

Eventually, we came upon the concept of a tri-cornered hat. You know the one. The kind that the colonists wore in the Revolutionary War. The first serious idea, then, was to call it the “Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Patriot.” But that sounded too… we didn’t know, it just didn’t sound right. And this was well before everyone began hating the New England Patriots. Turns out we dodged a bullet on that.

We searched our brains for other names used to describe Revolutionary War soldiers. That’s when it became apparent “Sentinel” was the name to use. There were already other major dailies using that name, so it was acceptable within journalism circles.

Plus, we liked the idea of a watchman who shines light on what’s all around us. Not only does this connote the noble act of protecting, it also speaks of a broader form of illumination. The is the kind of light that shines on all things pleasant: good deeds, good works, good feelings.

It is this latter sense of “good news” from which the name “Sentinel” derives, as well as the original coverage area of Mendon, Honeoye Falls, and Lima.

Today, however, we unveil a new logo. It represents something a sentinel carries. It’s a lantern.

You can see the light that shines from it, but can you see the concept of the triangle?

It’s at the bottom, the base of the lantern. And it’s there because Mendon, Honeoye Falls, and Lima represent the foundation from which we’ve built. Today we serve not only three areas, but roughly a dozen towns and villages.

Thirty-odd years ago we were only a tri-cornered hat covering one head. Today, like a lantern emitting ever expanding light, we cover a broader community representing the oft-underreported edges of three vibrant counties.

Funny, that broader community coincidentally overlaps with the very same “vicinity” William O’Brien served when he started the Honeoye Falls Weekly Times.

And, yes, we remain “Independently Devoted to the Best Interests of Honeoye Falls and Vicinity.”

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