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All in the family
By LISA BRITTON
Of the Baker City Herald
The Baxter family has pretty much perfected their newspaper route system they've been at it for six years and have involved all five kids.
Karen Baxter said their Baker City Herald newspaper route began in 1996 when their oldest son, Greg, was 11.
"He was saving money to go to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia," she said.
Greg's younger brothers Sam and Zack, now 15- and 13-years-old also undertook the paper route to raise money for the Boy Scout trip.
At first there were a few bugs to work out, and Karen said soon they came up with a system for collecting money.
"We discovered right off the bat that collecting was easier if we wrote a note" to the customers, she said.
Every month she or one of the kids would type up a note with the newspaper's price and the date of collection. Then they would copy it, cut the notes apart and roll them up with the newspapers.
After they came up with that system, they worked on the actual act of collecting.
At first, Karen said "all five kids would get out and converge on one house."
Now the kids Greg, Sam, Zack, Courtney, 10 and Jacob, 8 go to five different doors, which cuts the time down to 45 minutes.
"It's kind of evolved from just my oldest son to the other kids," she said. "We've always had kids to fill in."
Which works great now that sports season is here. Karen said that the kids substitute for each other when sports conflict with the route schedule whoever isn't in sports gets to deliver papers.
She said this "family business" has helped the kids develop over the last six years.
"I think it's really taught them responsibility," she said. "It's been good to teach them how to deal with the public and customers."
Whoever is delivering the papers has to show up on time, collect the money at the end of the month, and then turn it in.
"And they have to take it when they get complaints," Karen said.
Of course, with different carriers, they all enjoy different aspects of the job.
Karen said that Courtney loves to collect the money.
"She's just a go-getter girl who's not shy."
Zack said that the route's good because "it's short 10 or 15 minutes. We just know it so well." They've trimmed down the delivery time from over an hour to their quickest time of 6 minutes.
Greg said that another good thing about the route is that "it's extra spending money."
"And I read the paper everyday," Zack added.
To help out the kids, Karen rolls the papers in the afternoon and drives them in the car when the weather turns snowy and the days are shorter so they finish before dark.
The rest of the time the kids use bikes or rollerblades.
Karen said that no one has ever been hurt while delivering papers, although Greg can recall a close call.
Right after he began the route, he said the carrier bag got caught in the spokes of his bicycle. Fortunately the mishap didn't result in any serious injuries, even though he went over the handlebars when the bike suddenly stopped.
Now they use a small, worn duffel bag with very short straps to carry the newspapers.
The route is still under Greg's name, and the location down Washington Avenue is convenient because it's near their home.
"It's the best route and we have nice people," Karen said. "They've watched the kids grow up."
Karen said Greg is the busiest with other activities, so the younger kids pitch in most of the time.
With a few exceptions.
"When no one wants to do it, they claim it's my route and I have to do it," Greg said.