Montpelier, Vt. — The owner of a small Vermont weekly newspaper who tried to find a new owner with an essay contest is selling the paper to a Connecticut couple.

Last fall, Ross Connelly abandoned his plan to give the Hardwick Gazette to the winner of an essay contest because he didn’t get enough entries.

After returning the entry money, Connelly told entrants he’d still like to sell the weekly paper that serves Hardwick, a town of about 3,000 in northern Vermont. He then began negotiating with Ray and Kim Small, of Stamford, Connecticut, who had submitted an essay.

The deal is to close Friday afternoon.

Ray Small, who comes from the information technology sector, says he and his wife had been looking to move to what he calls the “real New England.”

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