With the U-T’s purchase of the North County Times, the firing of 80 staff employees and writers, and the merging of the publications on October 15, one aspect of the transition has so far remained unchanged — North County's street newspaper vendors.
Daily around North County, the Alpha Project drops off 36 street hawkers, including three at the busy intersection of El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard, in Encinitas. The hawkers are part of the Alpha Project's 140-bed, drug-and-alcohol treatment program. Most vendors are early-release state prisoners who were incarcerated for nonviolent felonies.
“The street-hawker program is vital part of their recovery,” points out Amy Gonyeau, COO of the Alpha Project. The participants get up at 4:00 a.m. and return from selling at around 11:00 a.m. They then have full day of counseling, therapy sessions, and educational classes. The program provides a regular job and a small income. The North County Times supplies the papers to the Alpha Project at a discounted rate. The hawkers keep tips they might receive from motorists.
The vendors will continue to be seen at least until the end of the year, when, according to Gonyeau, the agreement between the now-combined North County Times/U-T and the Alpha Project will be renegotiated, at the request of the U-T.