Does size matter? Gazette readers think so.

“Your paper is getting SMALLER and smaller and smaller ALL THE TIME," a recent comment from a reader stated. “Need MORE national sports coverage.”

This is one of several comments we’ve received through the winter from customers. Those of you who read this column know that I like to answer questions and comments periodically. And I have been absent from this blog for a couple of weeks. So here we go:

Regarding the paper’s size: We went through a highly noticeable change in our paper two years ago when we trimmed the page size to match that of most other papers and dropped features and some pages. Since then, however, we have been adding features to the printed paper, have launched an e-edition and are considering other enhancements. True, the paper is not as big as it was 25, 15, even five years ago. Fact is, readers no longer demand such a large daily paper. We hear a lot from people who say they don't have time to read it.

But we will continue to strive to give you information you want with an enjoyable reading experience.

This particular reader took a clever approach to commenting. The word “smaller” became progressively tinier with each use. The approach worked because it drew my attention.

Regarding national sports coverage, many outlets provide this. Try ESPN, for example. But they don’t offer local sports, which we feel are valuable in Eastern Iowa and which we can deliver better than anyone. We beefed up our prep sports coverage this school year and think it serves a huge interest. Iowa Prep Sports is our online effort to give you what you want.

My wish for the new year is the rate for subscription to (the) Gazette would shrink as much as the newspaper has shrunk.

See above for the answer. But this Marion reader put some thought into her comment and I thought she should have her say. By the way, we have not increased our subscription rate for several years.

You are too far left of center in politics and social problems.

We’re not involved in politics but we report on it and what people say. Some issues of late have struck nerves: government spending, same-sex marriage, anything related to Obama. Readers certainly have views on why we pick one story over another. We try to pick stories we think will interest people, so that they feel informed enough to reach their own opinion.

Our Editorial Board offers a point of view in Opinion Page editorials but most times readers making this complaint are upset about a news story they don’t like. One reader sent word in late November, for example, that she was cancelling her subscription because “your strong liberal views have convinced us that we no longer need your paper.” Another sent word in December that we were “on probation” because of the editorial page, which coincidentally was named best editorial page for Iowa’s largest newspapers by the Iowa Newspaper Association last month.

Readers also think we blow off their comments, but we don’t. They help us understand what you’re thinking. Giving the feedback is not wasted time.

Please include EWTN in your TV listing. The Quad-City Times does this – it seems that The Gazette should be doing this, too.

The proliferation of cable television stations makes printing each one’s listings impossible. Doing so would take too much space for something most people would not read. Space available on any given page is finite. One station would have to go to make room for another.

We’ve tried to determine which stations have the broadest appeal when it comes to what we list. We believe we’ve hit most of those with our listings.

My favorite part of (the) Gazette is “ON YOUR MIND”. That was a good idea from someone.

Glad you like it. This link takes you to where you can comment. The most recent comments are on the bottom, although a lot of people prefer to just go to the community conversation site. At either place, play nice.

I read with interest your articles of milestone anniversaries. Just thought I would past on this information about my parents. ... Delbert and Nina (Ague) Kaesser - 1934-2010.

The beginning of the rest of their lives began back in 1932 – Dad’s first date with Nina.

August 28, 1934, my parents was married, unbelievable, 76 years ago, now working on 77 years.

I anticipated hearing about Iowans with long marriages after my column last week and was not disappointed. The Kaessers, of Rowley, had the longest of those from whom I heard. Nina lives in a nursing home and Delbert in assisted care, wrote their daughter, Kathryn Butterfield.

Here is the column I wrote for the Feb. 27 Gazette:

I got a call this month from a woman who wondered about an item in Milestones, in which a family noted a 71st wedding anniversary as marking Iowa’s longest marriage. Someone in her family has been married longer than that, the caller said.

So after a short conversation with her I called Galen and Lucile Lines of Brooklyn, Iowa, married more than 72 years and anticipating their 73rd anniversary on Aug. 27. We talked on the phone about how they knew each other in Marble Rock as kids and started dating when Lucile was in high school. Galen, who is 93, was out of high school by then. Lucile celebrates her 91st birthday on Tuesday.

All three of us are pretty sure someone in Iowa has been married even longer than they have.

While most of the Lineses’ marriage has played out in Iowa, 28 of those years were spent in the warmer climate of Arkansas before Galen and Lucile moved back to Iowa four years ago. Has it been a good marriage? I asked Galen. “Oh, yes. There have been no problems,” he said, sounding sharp as a tack. “We’ve been real good together.”

Galen is a World War II veteran, having served as an evacuation hospital X-ray technician in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. Lucile contributed to the war effort, too, at Kaiser-Vancouver in Washington state. Their children and grandchildren live in Brooklyn so they get to see a lot of the family.

The key to their longevity together? “Honoring what each one thinks, I guess,” Galen said. “And discussing things with a good attitude.”

And, Lucile chimed in, they play bridge.

Who’s the best player? I asked. Galen wouldn’t touch that landmine. Lucile kept her answer to herself.

Milestones is a public scrapbook and people pay for the space that shows photos and words they select. It is a well-read section of our Sunday Gazette and a good service for people wanting to get word out about important moments in the lives of their Eastern Iowa families.

The fact is, the couple at 71 years of marriage and counting hit a pretty decent milestone worth celebrating. Few people hit that kind of mark so I am glad we could do a service for them by getting their announcement in the paper.

I’m also glad I took a few minutes on a February afternoon to talk with Galen and Lucile Lines and say a few words about them.

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