William “Bill” Monnier just might be the poster child for passion and commitment to community. Fortunately for us, his commitment benefits the city of Cheviot as well as several other west-side communities. Bill is the creator and editor of the Cheviot Gazette, a west-side publication that focuses on current events, local news, and items of public interest. Although the Gazette primarily concentrates on the city of Cheviot, Bill knows that his small city is part of a bigger west-side pond. Let’s check it out.
The Gazette’s roots may be traced to one fateful (or maybe fortuitous) night when Bill witnessed two locals engaged in friendly banter about whose chili recipe was better. The “disagreement” escalated when one guy, good naturedly, blamed the other guy of buying votes in order to win a chili contest. Realizing that most local residents were not even aware of the contest, Bill used “chili-gate” as motivation to inform people about the many things that were happening in their own community. It was the beginning of the Gazette and soon it started to catch on.
“I realized there was a lot more going on in Cheviot than people were aware of,” Bill explains. “The Gazette was born to connect our readers to current news and events in our community. I more or less realized through the scope of the Cheviot Gazette that people took notice and interacted differently than when just me or one person tried to promote something. I then decided I could attempt to shine some light on areas of Cheviot that deserve it. That is my attempt anyway.”
Bill’s efforts on the Gazette have already made a big difference in public awareness. What started as a one-man show continues to gain traction, and today there are several volunteers who help out each month. One volunteer, Abby Erwin credits Bill’s influence in getting the word out saying, “The number of events he has designed posters for, made funny videos for and just got human beings excited to walk in the door has done wonders for business owners around the city.” And she’s right. Today the Cheviot Gazette is making waves through Cheviot and beyond, including a growing circulation for the publication and a Facebook following of nearly 3,000 people.
Labor of love
It’s safe to say that the Gazette is a labor of love for Bill. His publication has grown from strictly digital to now include a monthly paper copy. Each edition includes articles, photos and Bill’s unique expressions of characters (living and animated) in his artwork. He does all the artwork himself, which started with the development of the Gazette’s logo, a sheep, fitting because the “Cheviot” is a breed of white-faced sheep.
Bill Monnier has the foresight to see his small city for what it is today (which is good) and envision it for what it can be in the future (even better). This, and his all-in commitment to share knowledge makes him the perfect creator and editor of the Cheviot Gazette. And he does this on his own time outside of his full-time gig as the manager of Longs Wholesale Furniture store in Hartwell!
Just for fun:
Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A: I tend to just kind of fall into things. Something piques my interest and I dive in. I do that for a while and can never seem to find a way to end things in a way that satisfies me. I think that is why the CG is a good fit for me. It doesn’t need an ending.
Q: How has the Gazette made a difference in your community?
A: At first, I had to sell the idea of this publication. Many of my friends laughed at me and said I couldn’t make any sort of real impact. I even met with the mayor, Sam Keller, to let him know what I was doing. Now that we have grown, we have a voice that is heard to the point where Mayor Keller told me, “The Cheviot Gazette has won me over!” (But it did it take a while.)
Q: Has that voice come in handy?
A: Yes, recently we took exception to a Channel 12 story initiated by the retirement of Chris and Stephanie Stone of Stone’s Restaurant. Channel 12 centered the story about the concern of retail leaving Cheviot citing examples of other closed businesses in the past couple years. We wrote a counter to that story in the Gazette challenging Channel 12 on the accuracy of their article and insisted on an apology. The Gazette gave us a platform to be heard in a way that otherwise we would not have been able to.
Q: How would those close to you describe you? What would they say about you?
A: Hard working, passionate, good sense of humor, dedicated, loyal.
Q: Tell me some of your favorite things about your city.
A: The west-side has really a great sense of community. We have the mentality of “this is us.” When I go to the grocery store, I’ll run into someone I played baseball with or maybe even used to babysit me. It is kind of like Mayberry.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in your community?
A: There are a number of people who rise up to make our community a better place to live, work and play. People like Cory & Krystle Gaiser, Peter Rebold and the local historian, Rich Martin.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would it be, and why?
A: Toulon France – I used to go once a year. I have some pen-pal friends there.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: If you want to do something – just do it. Don’t worry about approval from others, these are your dreams, not theirs.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: A nap.
Q: What person, alive or passed, would you like to have lunch with?
A: My Uncle Bill, even though I never met him. He moved to Las Vegas after he served in Vietnam. He was a really smart dude. A student of life who carried a book or a notebook wherever he went.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
A: Maybe in a house. I don’t really know, and I am ok with that. Just continue to read and learn and engage.
Q: What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: I do not let real life break me. I cry more watching a movie than in real life.
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: Family, Tradition, Loving.
Q: What do you do for you?
A: The Cheviot Gazette, I enjoy writing. I also enjoy debating.
What doesn’t get done by volunteers, gets done by Bill, including the delivery of the printed version of the Gazette, sometimes with his 2-year-old son in tow. When I asked if he ever regrets going to a printed copy, he lightheartedly says, “once a month”.