Germantown residents are up in arms this week over a new online newsblog touting itself as “The Germantown Times.” The neighborhood newsblog was launched earlier this month by Sandy and Frank Thompson, but local residents claim the retired couple is spreading false information about their neighborhood.
“Why, they wrote news about some young man who went to the Gap store to get some clothes,” Bill Schweitzer said. “I don’t know him myself, but there’s no reason to criticize where someone shops or which mall they go to. I don’t think that’s news at all.”
The infractions against the Times keep piling up as July unfolds; the news site appeared early in the month and has been posting several stories per week. To track down this story, I contacted the Thompsons through their site but had received no response at press time.
Curiously, I could not locate personal Facebook or LinkedIn pages for either of them. The “About” section of the Germantown Times website says only that the couple are retired UPS employees and that they plan to keep reporting Germantown news “as long as they can keep the AOL turned on.”
Occasionally, one of the Thompsons will post something personal on the site’s Facebook page, and they seem like harmless, simple messages. Yet, there remains a mysteriousness to the Thompsons.
“Frank and I want our Grandchildren and the rest of Germantown to have a safe time at Forecastle this weekend,” Sandy posted on Friday morning. “God Bless xoxo.”
The Facebook page “About” section says only this: “This page is a friendly neighborhood online watch group. We encourage people that live in the neighborhood to share news/info about Germantown.”
And yet, after a sweep of the Germantown neighborhood, no one seems to know the Thompsons or anything about their neighborhood watch group. It’s almost as if they don’t exist.
Carolyn Klempf said she tried unsuccessfully to find the couple in the phone book, trying both the main book and the skinnier county phone book. No matches.
“I used to know some Thompsons who lived over on Logan Street,” Klempf said, “but they were nice Christian people. They were regulars at Check’s for years, but I’m pretty sure his name was Chester and hers was Emily. Or was it Elise? Anyway, they moved to E-town in ’97, so it can’t be them.”
Who could these Thompsons be? Theories abound, especially after cryptic stories such as the one headlined “Neighborhood kid up to something with that stick.” The story suggests a looming crime wave that has upset local residents.
“I have an ‘equalizer’ under my recliner, that’s all I’ll say,” said Harold Bemis, of Shelby Street. “I don’t know what these news people are trying to do, but no young punks are going to take over my street. I’m starting to think these Thompsons might live in the Highlands. As far as I’m concerned, their types ain’t welcome past Barret Avenue.”
Others, however, are excited about the new slant on local news. For instance, while the Germantown-Schnitzelburg Facebook page reports on local news such as missing dogs and the need for helpers at local picnics, it doesn’t always get to the heart of the stories, local 20-something Iver Nally said between drags on an e-cig.
“I totally had no idea we had gotten so close to 1,000 lost dogs, but Germantown Times was all over that story,” Nally said, tugging at the edge of his dark blue toboggan. “I’d have never known otherwise. My guys and I, we all hoisted a West Sixth Lemongrass in remembrance.”
“Someone losing their dog ain’t funny,” was Bemis’ response.
Speaking of beer, however, one story that raised a lot of hackles in Germantown was a post headlined, “Germantown Chili’s adds Magic Hat to tap list.”
In the story, Chili’s GM Dana Caldwell mistakenly refers to Magic Hat beer as being from Lexington. This has many questioning the credibility of the Thompsons’ reporting abilities.
“Magic Hat is from Vermont,” wrote WordPress user Max in the story’s comments section. “She’s thinking of west 6th that magic hat sued for using a similar logo, they’re from Lexington.”
“Putting in a beer that sued a Lexington brewery does seen [SIC] a bit clueless,” added Craig T. “She must have read the story but forgotten which was the Kentucky beer.”
The latest transgression was to post the Forecastle Festival lineup the very day the festival begins – only to reveal the lineup is vastly different than what most Germantown residents had been led to believe.
Jake Rymer, 33, a professional house painter and commercial mower, said he was forced to rush to the Internet to buy a ticket at the last minute and was forced to cancel two weekend mowing jobs so he can attend.
“If I had known Chumbawamba was going to be there, I’d have bought tickets in advance,” Rymer said. “This is a bit inconvenient, so I wish they had posted that earlier. I guess I’m lucky I saw it.”
Robert Rauch, 74, of Deer Park Avenue, read the new online newspaper for a couple of weeks, but has since sworn it off. He is among the many I interviewed who do not know the Thompsons and are concerned by the confusion and negativity Germantown Times is causing amongst his neighbors.
“It was bad enough when the hippies took over and everyone started smoking the dope over at that Nack Bar,” Rauch said. “Now this? Hell, I may move to Schnitzelburg if this shit doesn’t stop.”