North Iowa Times, Clayton County Register merging into single publication

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As the world changes weekly, and even daily, the North Iowa Times and Clayton County Register feel it is time to change as well. Beginning with the May 6 issue, the two newspapers will merge into a single publication with a shared masthead.

The move will better serve readers and advertisers by combining both newspapers’ coverage areas and providing more news about county and local governments, schools, businesses, events and the unique people who call Clayton County home.

Audrey Posten, who has been editor of the North Iowa Times in McGregor for nearly seven years, will serve as editor of the combined publication. She will continue to cover news in and around the communities of Marquette, McGregor, Monona, Farmersburg and Luana, as well as the MFL MarMac School District. She will also work with new reporter Willis Patenaude to cover the Elkader area and the Central School District. Pam Reinig, editor of the Clayton County Register for 10 years, is retiring.

The North Iowa Times-Clayton County Register will continue to publish weekly, each Wednesday.

“I-and our whole staff-understand the importance of a newspaper to its community. They help you understand important issues, providing reliable local news you won’t get from a daily newspaper, TV station or social media feed. They connect you with your neighbors and elicit pride in your town,” said Posten. “Just because the two newspapers are merging doesn’t mean we’re abandoning that, or any of our communities. Both the North Iowa Times and Clayton County Register coverage areas will be fully represented. Staff will continue to be fixtures at events, in area businesses and with community organizations.”

The shared masthead will honor the history of each publication, both of which are over 140 years old.

The Clayton County Register, which is the official newspaper of Clayton County, was owned for four generations (1880-1999) by the Griffith family. It was purchased by David G. Griffith and G.A. Fairfield in August 1880. Griffith was a native of New York who entered the newspaper business after he was discharged from military service in 1865. He worked for the Utica Herald and, in 1870, moved to Iowa, where he worked at the Dubuque Herald until moving to Elkader in 1880.

Fairfield, a Michigan native, also worked at the Dubuque newspaper. He came to Elkader at the “urgent solicitation” of Register owner P.D. Bayless.

In 1891, Fairfield and Griffith moved the paper to a building on Cedar Street in Elkader, where newspaper operations continued for more than 120 years.

Fairfield and Griffith ran the paper together until Jan. 1, 1893, when Fairfield retired, leaving Griffith and his son, Harry, as the owners and publishers of the paper. Upon Harry’s death in 1937, his son, Harold, become the third generation Griffith to run the newspaper. When Harold retired in 1978, he and his wife, Louise, sold the paper to their son, Robert. Bob and his late wife, Jane, were the fourth generation of Griffiths to publish the Register. They sold it in 1999 to News Publishing Corp., of Black Earth, Wis. Gary Howe purchased the paper in May 2011.

The North Iowa Times was established in McGregor on Oct. 10, 1856. The newspaper was founded by Col. A.P. Richardson and F.W.D. Merrill, the brother of Iowa Gov. Samuel Merrill, although Merrill’s name appeared on the masthead for just two weeks. The “North Iowa” portion of the name harkens back to McGregor’s early days, when it was a major port for most of northern Iowa.

In the first issue, Richardson stated, “The commercial interest of McGregor, to say nothing of the demands of a country west of us unsurpassed in fertility, required the establishment of a newspaper.” 

These days, the North Iowa Times is regarded as northeast Iowa’s oldest newspaper and Iowa’s third oldest weekly newspaper. It also remains the community’s oldest business institution. In fact, the paper pre-dates the incorporation of McGregor, which occurred in 1857.

Over the years, several prominent local families have published the newspaper, most notably the Huebsches, who combined for over 60 years of ownership. Dr. Don and Joanne Strutt were also at the helm for 10 years. In 1989, Howe purchased the North Iowa Times.

Howe sold the Clayton County Register, North Iowa Times and their sister papers, The Guttenberg Press and Courier Press, along with The Trader shopper, to Morris Newspaper Corporation of Wisconsin, headquartered in Lancaster, Wis., last May.

The North Iowa Times and Clayton County Register appreciate the support of their readers and advertisers through this transition.

“We look forward to the new possibilities this merger will bring to strengthen both publications and provide everyone with an enjoyable, trusted product,” Posten said.

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