Observer has new owners

The Williston Observer has changed ownership from one local couple to another. 

The sale was finalized Friday, giving the newspaper its third owner since its 1985 inception as the Williston Whistle. Paul and Marianne Apfelbaum purchased the paper from its founding ownership group in 1994. The Williston couple sold the paper to Susan and Rick Cote, Williston residents since 2010.

“We really wanted to have people take over who are Willistonians, and out of the blue, fairly recently, Susan and Rick came into our lives,” Marianne Apfelbaum said. “I think people are going to be very happy with a smooth transition of the paper to new owners who are equally as committed to community journalism and serving the community as we are.”

The Cotes came to Williston from Woodstock, Vt., and prior to that from Cincinnati, where they both worked for Procter & Gamble. Rick Cote is currently the executive director of advancement at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Susan Cote most recently worked in product marketing and brand management at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. She has previous experience running an educational publishing company. Her volunteer work has included research and writing in support of gender equity in the coffee industry.

“The Apfelbaums have been tremendous stewards of the paper and have really built it into something that I think people look forward to having arrive in their mailbox every week, so I, first and foremost, want to continue that strong tradition, then just find ways to hear from the community about what could make the paper even more valuable and enjoyable for them,” Susan Cote said.

The Cotes bought the newspaper under the name Twin Ponds Publishing.

“Since moving to Williston in 2010, we have appreciated the local reporting, business information and context provided by the Observer,” Cote said. “This paper serves as an important glue holding our community together and helping us connect with our neighbors and area businesses and organizations.”  

The Apfelbaums ran the paper under the Williston Publishing and Promotions banner. In 2003, they changed the name from the Whistle to the Observer. 

“We have had a long run and have learned so much,” Marianne Apfelbaum said. “We had a lot of wonderful people in town who really supported our efforts and helped us along. We were really welcomed with open arms and I hope that everyone will welcome the new owners with open arms like we were welcomed.”

The Apfelbaums plan to remain in Williston, and Marianne Apfelbaum will continue as an Observer staff member through a transition period to ensure smooth handover of the business.