Carriage Towne News
---- — Tenacious. Influential. Candid. And downright fun.
Ask around about Electra “Ellie” Alessio and a picture of a dedicated businesswoman and passionate community leader emerges.
Alessio’s colleagues describe her as a skilled entrepreneur, at once professional, yet genuine and caring, with a superb sense of humor.
“She took a real chance when she went out with the paper, but look at what it has become,” said Warren Gerety, owner/senior wealth advisor at Coastal States Wealth Advisors in Hampstead, who has worked with her on the Plaistow Area Commerce Exchange.
Wally Zaremba, president of RAM Printing in East Hampstead, said Alessio has always been serious about striving to better the community, especially when it comes to raising money for children. But she knew how to enjoy doing it.
Kellie Farrar, a wellness educator from Brentwood who sat on the Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors with her, said Alessio takes volunteering to a whole new level.
“She does not just give of her time, but she gives her heart, sweat and tears,” Farrar said. “She is passionate about her beliefs and will be persistent until she is satisfied with the outcome. Electra is kind, generous and her heart is made of pure gold. And let’s be honest, the lady loves her martinis ... served with a side of humor and sarcasm.”
Kingston Board of Selectmen Chairman Mark Heitz said one of the things he has enjoyed most about Alessio is her candor. “She never hesitates to express her opinion, sometimes in a very colorful way,” he said.
“She is certainly someone we have depended on on numerous occasions,” he said, adding he hopes that now after years of being so community minded and generous in her time and donations to the town and various programs that Alessio takes some time to cater to herself.
Fellow PACE member Phil Plante, of Ocean Bank, formerly People’s United Bank, in Plaistow, said Alessio has been nothing short of an inspiration to the region’s business community.
“Here’s a local woman who broke the glass ceiling ahead of everyone else,” he said.
But Alessio prefers to think of herself as “making time, not ahead of my time.”
Longtime employees said the fact that so many of them have stayed with Alessio for decades is a testament to not only her as a boss, but as a person.
Brenda Blake was Carriage Towne’s first advertising sales representatives and stayed for 26 years. She enjoyed the fact that Alessio trusted her and she could work independently, as long as the job got done.
Donna Roberts, the former owner of Plaistow Aquarium, was one of Carriage Towne News’ first advertisers in 1983. She joined the staff 18 years ago as an advertising sales representative, and today heads up the newspaper’s ad operations. She is teamed with Arek Czarnecki, who has returned to Carriage Towne as its second ad rep.
Elisha Blaisdell arrived a year after Roberts, walking through the Carriage Towne News doors to place a classified ad. She knew she belonged there and persuaded Alessio to hire her as the paper’s editorial assistant 17 years ago. She will now step into the role of editor, carrying on the proud tradition of her mentor.
Larry Kennedy was Carriage Towne’s first — and only — part-time photographer. He said seeing Alessio retire is like losing a best friend. But knowing the paper will continue is a testament to what she created.
Carriage Towne News’ impact is something Alessio’s sister, Corinne Lester, realized only after moving to Kingston. Living in Europe and the West Coast with a career in the art world, Lester for years envisioned Carriage Towne as a “little paper filled with advertising.” Then she saw how it connected people with their communities and one another.
“What I came to understand is this paper is like the core of the community,” said Lester, who is now the paper’s circulation director. “This little paper that was originally in almost the middle of nowhere sort of created a hub for people who lived here. ...
“Electra created something unique, something different. She took the town on and made it hers. ... And now it’s up to us to carry on the flame for what Carriage Towne should continue to be.”
— Sonya Vartabedian, staff writer