The Voice passed to founder's grandchild Dianna Richards, publisher, aims to make paper weekly

June 18, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

What Dianna Richards remembers most about her grandmother, Marguerite L. T. Mills, is her energy. For 15 years, Mills used that energy to run the Severna Park Voice, which she founded in 1981. But she died last November of heart failure at age 78.

Now Richards has picked up where her grandmother left off. The 22-year-old Severna Park resident is the new publisher of the monthly neighborhood newspaper.

"It's been a great experience so far," Richards said. "It's been exciting to be involved with the community and the people in the community."

When Mills founded the Voice in 1981, the paper was called the Severna Park Magazine. Its name was later changed to the Voice of the Village and then the Voice.

Mills was the driving force behind the newspaper, her granddaughter said. She wrote and edited the articles, took the pictures and published the paper.

But a quadruple heart bypass in 1995 forced Mills to slow down, Richards said. When Mills died in November, her daughter, Laurie Lipsey of Severna Park, became editor.

But Laurie Lipsey and her husband Dan had a Christian ministry and found time for the paper slipping away. So Lipsey's daughter Richards became the publisher in March.

Although her grandmother never pressured her children or grandchildren to run the Voice, Richards said she felt compelled to take over.

"It was an opportunity to continue a tradition," she said. "Not only a tradition in my family, but also something for the community." When Richards took the reins, only 3,000 issues of the newspaper were being published and four advertisers were buying space . Within three months, she negotiated 31 new contracts with advertisers and used the money to double the number of issues.

Richards said her goal is to have the paper delivered to every home in the greater Severna Park on a weekly rather than monthly basis.

She also wants to change the format, she said. Rather than scatter stories indiscriminately throughout the paper, Richards said she wants to divide it into sections such as schools, church, and health and fitness.

"The goal is to not only use the paper as a calendar, but also as a vehicle for features ," she said. "We want the people in the community to know that it's a community paper."

Lonnie Lancione, the Voice's new editor, said the response among residents has been positive.

"People are excited about the paper," Lancione said. "They seem really happy that it's still in existence."

Richards said she is proud to carry the tradition her grandmother started. "Many people have told me how thrilled she would be if she knew I took over the paper," Richards said. "That makes me happy."

Pub Date: 6/18/96

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