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Bombarded with "news"


The mild headlines—"3Horse Ranch Vineyards Bottle Opening" or "Eagle Foothills: Great American Cleanup" or "Officials break ground ..."—belie a heated newspaper battle taking shape in Eagle over the past year.

And throwing fuel onto the fire, the city picked sides—if only for a moment.

After a heated mayoral race last year that ended with Phil Bandy winning a close runoff election, Mary and Robert Defayette, with help from the Eagle Chamber of Commerce and another newspaper publisher, started the Eagle Informer.

They sought, and received, the blessing of Bandy and the city in the form of $3,000 per month to cover the mailing costs if they printed pages of city-provided content.

Mary Defayette said the monthly magazine's mission is just to provide information.

"Eagle doesn't get the coverage, at least from The Statesman, about the whole story," she said.

Defayette says her magazine was formed in reaction to a group of highly critical Eagle residents, including Bandy opponent Saundra McDavid. She calls the group "haters."

In league with the Eagle Informer is Valley Times publisher Frank Thomason. The Valley Times is a weekly paper covering Meridian, Eagle and Star for almost nine years.

Thomason and Defayette spoke to the city about its communication with Eagle residents and landed the Informer deal. But a month later the city, on the recommendation of a communications task force, halted the $3,000 payments to the paper.

Thomason told BW that paying the Informer was not any different than the city paying a bulk mailer to send out a newsletter. But other area publishers were not sure why the city contracted with just one publication.

"There are already two magazines, three well-known newspapers, and I believe that there is a Web site and a radio station that focuses on Eagle," said Eagle Magazine publisher Tia Markland-Crabtree. "They had every avenue to reach out to us."

Eagle Magazine is a slick lifestyle glossy in the vein of other magazines that have popped up in the valley recently.

Add to the mix the Eagle Independent, which started free distribution to every city household soon after the election. Publisher Denice VanDoren also puts out the Star Independent and wants to cover the city in a "community friendly" and hometown newspaper sort of way.

"Up until my paper came out, there was no monthly publication devoted to Eagle," VanDoren said. Except the glossy magazine, of course.

During the recent election, candidates debated how the city provides information to residents. VanDoren and Defayette both want more access to city information—Eagle is notoriously slow in publishing its city council minutes.

But if they are depending on Bandy for that information, they are not doing their jobs.

"I would like to have those magazines and newspapers do a little bit of the footwork first," Bandy said.

Then he's happy to edit anything they write, he said.