By Jeff AndresGeneral Manager, Mille Lacs County Times
The first-ever edition of the Mille Lacs County Times was published Aug. 20, 1892. Early editions consisted of four pages, two of which were local news and advertising. There were about 100 subscribers. The Times struggled in those early years, bouncing through owners until the Craven family took the helm around 1895.
Elmer Andersen fulfilled a personal longtime dream when he started ECM Publishers, Inc. in 1976 with the purchase of two papers, the Princeton Union and the Princeton Eagle, and merged those papers to form the Princeton Union-Eagle. A few years later in 1981, ECM’s purchase of the Mille Lacs County Times from the Craven family made the Times the second paper in the ECM family of newspapers.
The technology that we use to publish our 51 newspapers is changing fast. When I started with ECM almost 20 years ago, layout of the paper was much more labor-intense. Ads and stories were attached to large poster boards with sticky wax before sending to the plant for printing. It was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together every week. We utilized computers back then, but had just scratched the potential of their future use. Today, technology has rocketed us forward, allowing us to bring you news and information in ways we only dreamed about two decades ago. That same technology is allowing us to perform our jobs more efficiently, and without the barriers of distance.
But despite all the changes we have witnessed in the last 20 years, our core values remain unchanged. We still attend school board, city council, and county board meetings because the decisions that are made there affect the people of this area. We see great value in providing readers with local news, features, information and advertising that is unique to this community.
But we also recognize that our nation, state and community have all experienced significant change in the last 20 years. To keep pace and plan toward a bright future we welcome the opportunity to invest in our newspapers, the product that actually helps give voice and life to the community. An office building is just bricks and mortar. It does not define the newspaper. The newspaper itself represents the eyes and ears of recorded history for our area and informs through your stories and photos.
Although the building at 225 2nd Street SW in Milaca has gone through many changes since 1919, it’s biggest change will occur on June 24 when we close our doors and move to our Princeton location, where the Town & Country and Princeton Union-Eagle are also produced.
This decision came after much consideration, but also caused us to revisit our true commitment to the community and the importance of maintaining a strong newspaper. We are not leaving Milaca. If anything, you will see more of us because we will spend increased time in the community and less time in an office.
To achieve our goals, we are bringing back a familiar face. Jeff Hage was a reporter at the Times from 1993-97 and will now serve as editor of the Times and continue as the editor of the Union-Eagle, a position he has held since 2011. Jeff knows Milaca quite well and is looking forward to returning to the Times. You will continue to see Gary Larson covering sports and Lesley Toth reporting news in the Milaca area. And Brigitte Alday has been meeting with Milaca area advertisers for years and will continue to offer that friendly smile as she walks in your door.
The Times will continue to be available for sale at many locations in Milaca that are within a few blocks of our current building.
Change occurs with every business and we certainly have experienced our share. To protect and grow this newspaper we are becoming more efficient and effective as a news leader. This decision, although difficult, will help our business remain viable now and well into the future. ECM Publishers is making many changes every day and working toward providing you with a better product that serves your changing needs. But our commitment to quality community newspapers remains at the forefront, which is why we are excited about the opportunity to serve you in Milaca.
The Mille Lacs County Times has been reporting on change in this area for 121 years and we continue to see the newspaper as a strong member of the community for many more years. Yes, this will be a change. But, we are still your newspaper. We still want to share your stories, post your news, publish your photos, advertise your sales and record history. That will never change.
You can still call us at 320-983-6111, fax us at 763-389-1728, email our editor at email@example.com or visit us at 208 N. Rum River Drive, Princeton, MN 55371.