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The New Richmond News has undergone many changes over the years, not to mention names. But one thing has remained the same. We tell the stories of our community. We are there for every moment, good and bad. We document your history. We tell the stories of your lives as you invite us into your homes, businesses, sporting events, happiest occasions and darkest tragedies. We are thankful for our readers’ loyalty over 15 decades and proud to be your hometown newspaper.

Abe Van Meter established the first newspaper in New Richmond in 1869, called the St. Croix Republican. The first edition was published Sept. 15, 1869. The editors of the first edition were Van Meter and Charles Seymour, both former La Crosse residents. It has changed names a number of times over the years, but has been published continuously since its inception and is now known as the New Richmond News. Van Meter was a Civil War veteran who served in Company A of the 30th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. He worked as a printer in La Crosse after the war, until he came to New Richmond. He published the St. Croix Republican until his death in 1899.

Abe’s son, Franc A.R. Van Meter, began working for the paper upon his high school graduation in 1887. He moved to La Crosse in 1894, where he became city editor of the La Crosse Republican and Leader.

In 1899, the St. Croix Republican had competition in the New Richmond Voice. But when the great cyclone struck on June 12, 1899, both newspaper offices were destroyed, along with 225 other buildings; 119 people died. All files and records from both papers were destroyed in the storm.

Soon after the cyclone, the St. Croix Republican and the New Richmond Voice merged to become The Republican Voice. Franc’s brother, C.H. Van Meter, bought half interest in the Voice and after the merger, the Van Meters controlled the newspaper. Their office was located on the Willow River where the Doar, Drill, Norman and Bakke law office is now. The Van Meter-Welch Printing Company organized in 1907, and Franc bought another competitor that had sprung up in recent years, The New Richmond News. The paper’s name then became The New Richmond News and Republican Voice, but was soon shortened to New Richmond News.

Unfortunately, a fire broke out at the newspaper on Jan. 21, 1913, when a furnace draft was left open too long and got out of control. The paper production continued at the Van Meter-Welch Hudson plant, where the Hudson Star-Observer was published. The fire destroyed all copies of previous editions, save for a few from 1901-1903.

The newspaper office was rebuilt at 145 W. Second St. and was deemed “practically fireproof.” It’s now home to NP Design & Photography.

From 1913-1922, many changes transformed the News. The focus became more local, rather than national. Before that, people didn’t have TV or the internet from which to get national news, so the local papers devoted more pages to it. Comic strips and local sports were added, as well as a special section for farmers. It went from four pages to eight, and contained blazing political editorials from conservative Franc A.R. Van Meter, who died in July 1942.

On July 15, 1942, John A Van Meter became the News’ business manager and his mother, Katherine Van Meter, was named president and treasurer. The paper continued to be published as a semi-weekly, but soon switched to once a week, on Thursdays.

Under John’s leadership, the paper departed from its Republican leanings and endorsed a Progressive party candidate for governor in 1942, and later Democratic candidates such as John F. Kennedy. John became known for his investigations into St. Croix County government and his “Important … if true” column campaign in which he published misdeeds he uncovered. The banner under his column read: “Every government official or board that handles public monies should publish at regular intervals an accounting of it showing where and how each dollar was spent. We hold this to be a fundamental principle of democratic government.” Besides being the editor of the News, John Van Meter was the mayor of New Richmond for 18 years.

The News was the only paper in New Richmond from 1907-1937, until Olof and Grace Bloom founded the St. Croix County Leader on Sept. 17, 1937. They later bought the Osceola Sun in 1942. The Leader was published until 1951. The Blooms announced in the Leader’s June 10, 1948 edition, the purchase of a paper published by Doughboy Inc., The New Richmond Town Crier. After 1951, the News again became the only local newspaper.

When John Van Meter died in 1968 at age 66, editor Gene Cooper, who had been on staff for seven years, kept the News going. Sam H. Kaufman, president of the Kaufman Co. in Minneapolis, an advertising and public relations firm, announced he was buying the News in the Nov. 28, 1968, edition. This was the end of the 99-year Van Meter family ownership. In 1970, the News joined forces with seven other local newspapers to form Publishers Printing Service, Inc. and bought a cooperative press in Amery. Martin McGowan was announced as editor and publisher in the Oct. 29, 1970, edition. On Dec. 3, 1971, Robert Bradford revealed he had bought the News. He was a third generation member of a newspaper family who served as publisher and editor of the Moose Lake Star Gazette.

According to a 1984 interview with local historian and columnist Mary Sather, Bradford served in the U.S. Army before working as a news editor in Austin, Minn. He then went back to his family newspaper in Moose Lake for eight years before buying the News. “After meeting with (Kaufman) three times and looking at the community and talking to some of the leading citizens about the role of the newspaper in New Richmond, we decided to buy it and it was a real struggle for the first two years,” Bradford told Sather. “The paper had lost a lot of readership and virtually all of its advertising and it was an up-hill battle.”

Sather led the production of the News’ Centennial Edition Plus 5 in 1973, joined by assistant Barb Cox (NRHS grad), Lorraine Ronnenberg (ads) and Dave Sanders (layout). Van Meter had planned a large centennial edition, but plans were put on hold after his death and subsequent ownership and staff changes. The printing caused Bradford “nightmares” as there was a shortage of newsprint that year. The amount of newsprint it took to publish the centennial editions would have filled two railroad box cars.

On Oct. 8, 1981, Bradford, who had been sole owner of the News for 11 years, sold it to a new corporation, New Richmond News, Inc., in which he was joined by two veteran newspapermen, Rowland Rebele and Lowell Blankfort. Bradford remained publisher, while the two California men served as consultants. The duo owned newspapers in Minnesota, California, Colorado and Illinois. Bradford said “I felt the newspaper had reached a point where I no longer wished to carry the entire burden of ownership alone … “ Bradford hired Mike Burke in May 1981 as a production manager, and he became general manager in the fall of 1983.

On April 15, 1982, Mike Jensen, who had served as editor for five years announced he was leaving to buy a professional photo studio in Little Falls, Minn. Reporter/photographer Dean Acheson took his place. Prior to the News, Acheson had been editor of the Olivia Times-Journal in Minnesota, and a reporter with the Tomahawk/Lincoln County Leader in Wisconsin.

The Bradfords moved to Northfield, Minn., in 1983, after their daughter graduated high school. They had begun purchasing other publications in the 1970s and growing their newspaper group.

On Aug. 2, 1984, Robert L. Bradford announced he had sold his interest in the paper to General Manager Mike Burke, who became the News’ publisher. And so began a time of several ownership and editor changes, many of which are difficult to document. As Sather states in “Historic Downtown New Richmond 1899-2009,” “The paper changed owners more than once and news editors came and went in dizzying numbers. Manager Mike Burke provided stability through it all for 28 years until 2009.” Steve Hayes, of Ortonvile, Minn., joined the News as editor in February 1990, according to News archives.

The Bradford family, listed as owners again, bought the Daylight Store building at 127 S. Knowles Ave. in 1991 and the News’ production office moved into that building, where it stayed until Forum Communications Co. closed the storefront in May 2018. The graphic design and print shop part remained in the Second Street building. Below is a listing of the editors and publishers in the 1980s and 1990s.

  • Nancee Melby: 1986-1989 (editor)

  • Alyssa Eckman: 1989 (editor)

  • Steve Hayes: 1990-1992 (editor)

  • Don Stoner: 1993-1995 (editor)

  • Larry Hubner and Linda Peterson: 1996 (editors)

  • Bob Zientara: 1997-2004 (editor)

  • Steve Dzubay: 1999-2015 (publisher)

On Jan. 15, 1998, Mainstream Publications, then owners of the News (President was Robert L. Bradford II), sold the News and 25 other Minnesota and Wisconsin publications to James E. Huckle of Traverse City, Mich. Huckle Publishing Inc., owned daily papers in Faribault and Owatonna, Minn. Burke provided stability as publisher.

In November 1998, Red Wing Publishing Co., parent company of the Republican Eagle newspaper in Red Wing, Minn. agreed to purchase the News. The weekly paper circulated 4,800 copies and had a companion advertising paper. Huckle sold the News, saying it didn’t fit in with his plans for grouping papers in Minnesota.

Red Wing Publishing Co. sold the News to Forum Communications Company in 2001, which is the current owner. And changes kept coming.

Steve Dzubay served as publisher and assistant director of the News for 20.5 years, 1995 to 2016. He began his RiverTown career as editor of the Pierce County Herald  in 1984, and later moved to the River Falls Journal in 1988. He helped move the RiverTown Multimedia group (part of Forum) into the 21st century by initiating an internet presence and helping to build a regional news website.

Bob Zientara, a University of Illinois graduate who served as managing editor from 1997 to 2004, turned those reins over to UW-River Falls graduate Jeff Holmquist in 2004 when he moved to Iowa. Holmquist had served as editor at many Minnesota papers, and owned the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger with his wife. He left New Richmond in 2013, after which New Richmond native and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Micheal Foley served as editor until summer of 2015, followed by Glenwood City native Raymond T. Rivard, who had been editor of The Lakeland Times in Minocqua for 15 years.

When the News went through a corporate restructuring in March 2017, UW-River Falls graduate, River Falls native and former News intern and reporter Sarah Nigbor took over as editor of the News and its sister publications the Pierce County Herald, Hudson Star-Observer and River Falls Journal. She remains editor in 2019, the 150th year, and is proud to continue the legacy of the talented journalists who came before her.

Editors and publishers

  • Abe Van Meter: 1869-1899 (editor and publisher)

  • Franc A.R. Van Meter: 1899-1942 (editor and publisher)

  • John Van Meter: 1942-1968 (editor and publisher)

  • Gene Cooper: 1968-1971 (editor)

  • Sam H. Kaufman: 1968-1971 (publisher)

  • Robert Bradford: 1971-? (editor) and 1971-1984 (publisher)

  • Lowell Blankfort and Rowland Rebele: 1980s (owner/consultants)

  • Steve Hayes: 1990-1992 (editor)

  • Don Stoner: 1993-1995 (editor)

  • James E. Huckle: 1998

  • Arlin Albrecht: 1998-2001 (owner of Red Wing Publishing Co.)

  • Michael Burke: 1985-2009 (publisher and general manager)

  • Larry Hubner and Linda Peterson: 1996

  • Bob Zientara: 1997-2004 (editor)

  • Steve Dzubay: 1999-2015 (publisher)

  • Jeff Holmquist: 2004-2013 (editor)

  • Micheal Foley: 2013-2015 (editor)

  • Ray Rivard: 2015-2017 (editor)

  • Steve Gall: 2016 (publisher)

  • Sarah Nigbor: 2017-present (editor)

  • Neal Ronquist: 2017-present (publisher)


We will continue to provide local coverage and strive to be your go-to for hometown news. We pride ourselves on not only covering events and sports, but digging into stories that matter to our readers in the realm of government, education, public safety, business, arts and entertainment, and more.