Just as the Rome Sentinel is announcing expansion of news coverage into the region, independently contracted delivery drivers say they are being cut from the paper's business strategy.

According to a letter provided to Townsquare Media by a driver who asked not to be identified, the Rome Sentinel will begin on February 1st, using the United States Postal Service to deliver its daily and Sunday newspapers, eliminating the traditional contracted delivery to subscribers and businesses. The final day for traditional delivery will be January 30th, according to the letter.

The letter from Rome Sentinel President Bradley Waters said that beginning on February 1st, the paper will be delivered by the Postal Service. "Our new mission is to deliver reliable community news to all of Oneida, Herkimer and Madison Counties," Waters said in the letter.

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The move comes as rumors and evidence of Gannett's downsizing of staff and facilities in Utica and Herkimer have limited the services provided by the papers. One is example is the fact that the Observer Dispatch didn't print on Christmas and New Year's weekends. The Thursday edition on both holiday weekends served as the printed version of the paper for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Additionally, staff at the Observer Dispatch has been moving out of its iconic Oriskany Street location, making way for the building to be auctioned off with a starting bid of $150,000.  The building's auction is set for January 18th.

Current drivers contracted for delivery with the Rome Sentinel will have the opportunity to apply for routes delivering bundles to stores, vending boxes and post offices beginning on February 1st, according to the letter. Further details on those positions are available through the circulation department at 315-337-4000.

The Rome Sentinel was first published on July 15, 1852 and has been printed daily since the 1880s. The paper, currently owned by the Waters family, has been family owned and operated since its inception.

WIBX has reached out to the Rome Sentinel and is awaiting comment.

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