After 112 years, a small-town newspaper folds

A moment of silence, please, for the loss of a little bit of “community” in the communities of Madison Lake, Eagle Lake, St. Clair and Pemberton. The local newspaper has shut down after 112 years.

Jerry Groebner, the owner, is old school, the Mankato Free Press says, and old school is a good way to go out of business in today’s media world. He didn’t have an Internet presence, and he set up his newspaper pages the old-fashioned way.

He tried to sell the paper after it lost the contract to print the legal notices for the local school system — the money-maker for papers that few people actually read.

But nobody wanted to buy it.

Life will go on, and maybe few will notice the demise of the paper. But something will be missing in small-town life.

Getting photos of school kids to run in the paper was Groebner’s favorite work.

“A small-town paper is much different from a paper like The Free Press. We go into the schools a lot and get the photos of the kids and things. I really loved that,” he said.

“You’d walk in and the kids see you and your camera and they want to be in the paper.”

The consummate community booster, Groebner readily admits he was never a hard-nosed news guy.

“I struggled doing the not good news stories.” One of the worst of those was a spectacular area murder case in which a mother killed and dismembered her daughter.

“It took me days to try to write that article and one of my sons had to finish writing it. I just didn’t like writing that kind of stuff.”

Groebner has cleaned out the newspaper offices and is wondering what to do with all the old issues of the paper dating back to 1904.