County Star to cease publication

CHAMPAIGN — The last edition of The County Star will be Thursday, Aug. 30. 

For decades, The County Star has kept the southern Champaign County community informed.  It has been trusted news source that readers looked forward to reading because they couldn’t find that information anywhere else.  The County Star has been a go-to source to learn about political candidates running in local elections, county board meetings, school events and sports.  Readers have relied on it for unbiased coverage. Many of our subscribers shared their newspapers with friends, colleagues, co-workers and others in their households.

Despite an increase in the depth of community coverage, declining advertising and subscription revenue, combined with increasing delivery costs, have made continued publication an unprofitable prospect, Publisher John Reed said.

“I feel very good about what we did with respect to the quality of our journalism and very much appreciate the loyal readers and advertisers who supported us over the years,” Reed said. “Editor Christine Walsh, and recently Mindy Basi, have done an outstanding job giving a voice to our local communities.”

“I have met so many wonderful people in my short time as editor and gotten to know the communities that make this area so vibrant.   This paper gave a voice to the residents of southern Champaign County,” said Editor Mindy Basi.

Former Editor Walsh reflected on her memories working on the paper. “I was blessed to meet many incredible people during my years at The County Star. During my first stint at the newspaper, right out of college, General Manager Steve Davis taught me so much about the business and about the community, and Bill Kirby, who owned the building in Tolono, taught me much about the history of the area. When I returned to The County Star eight years later, I felt welcomed back right away by the communities that I covered and made friends that I will keep for the rest of my life. I will always treasure my memories of the time that I spent there. It was difficult to leave for a new position with The News-Gazette; I saw the newspaper as my ‘baby’ having overseen it for so long, but Mindy Basi continued its tradition of excellence with grace.”

According to late historian Marion Moore, the first Tolono newspaper was the Tolono Citizen, which John S. Harper published in 1870.

On April 16, 1875, The Tolono Herald was established by father and son team E.J. and J.B. Chapin.  They published the paper for 77 years. In 1891, the paper was sold to A.B. Campbell, who published it until 1952. The town went without a paper until 1957, when R.J. Kemper established the South Side Journal. Kemper’s son R.J. later joined him in the venture.

In 1960, H.G. Wooters bought the South Side Journal from the Kempers but soon sold it in 1962 to Thomas M. Alender. 

In 1979, the South Side Journal became the County Star, which published its first issue on Nov. 8. The paper had offices at 101 East Holden in Tolono, now the home of the Tolono Historical Society.  Tolono native Donald Heimburger was the publisher, and former Tuscola Journal News’ Roger W. Bonham was the managing editor.

The News-Gazette Media Group purchased the County Star on Aug. 1, 1996. In June 2004, the paper moved to its last location in the News-Gazette building at 15 East Main St. in Champaign.

News-Gazette Media also announced this week that it will shutter the St. Joseph Leader, edited by Nora Maberry-Daniels for over 10 years.

Subscribers and advertisers will be contacted directly in the coming days about the end of publication, and any specific questions should be directed to The News-Gazette Media customer care center at 217-351-5252.

Despite ceasing publication of The County Star and The St. Joseph Leader, News-Gazette Media will continue to operate weekly editions in nearby communities, including The Mahomet Citizen, The Piatt County Journal-Republican in Monticello, The Ford County Record in Paxton, The Rantoul Press and The Independent News in Vermillion County.

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