New owners for Register Wisconsin group buys newspaper, shopper

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New owners for Register Wisconsin group buys newspaper, shopper
John Ingebritsen, left, MNC of Wisconin Regional Publisher is pictured with Gary Howe, left, who last week sold his papers, including the Clayton County Register, to the Wisconsin Media Group.

The Clayton County Register is one of four newspapers purchased last week by the Morris Newspaper Corporation (MNC) of Wisconsin.

The group also purchased The Trader and the Register’s three sister papers, the Courier Press in Prairie du Chien, North Iowa Times in McGregor, and the Guttenberg Press in Guttenberg.

The acquisition was finalized Tuesday, April 30, with Gary Howe, longtime owner of Mississippi Valley Printers and publisher of the four papers. MNC, a division of Morris Multimedia, Inc. headquartered in Savannah, GA took over operations Wednesday, May 1. Howe will remain at the company as general manager of the five publications for one year until his retirement.

“We’re going to keep on keeping on and we’re going to have fun. We care about our product, our newspaper family and our community,” Howe said. “We, as a family, bought community newspapers, and retaining that family feel to them was nice. Having a company with the wherewithal to buy us and hopefully continue that investment is important.”

MNC of Wisconsin owns newspapers in Lancaster, Platteville, Fennimore, Boscobel, Gays Mills, Cuba City, Darlington, Richland Center, Muscoda and Monroe. With the addition of these four publications, the group has grown to include 14 newspapers and four shoppers. Both weekly newspaper groups will join forces in continuing to serve the small communities across the region.

The former Mississippi Valley Printers group will move forward with producing its own newspapers in office, and printing of the four papers and shopper will be done in Calmar, Iowa, as it has been. From there, papers are expected to be mailed out to subscribers and placed on newsstands as usual.

“We see this as a wonderful fit with our group of weekly newspapers in southern Wisconsin,” said MNC of Wisconsin Regional Publisher John Ingebritsen, who has been with MNC of Wisconsin since it began operations in this region in 2002. “We understand the weekly newspaper business and we value the relationship with the communities we serve.”

The 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 he moved 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 January 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, and his wife, Jane.

Bob and Jane, now the fourth generation of Griffiths, published the Register until 1999, when it was sold to New Publishing Corp. of Black Earth, WI. Howe purchased the paper in May 2011.

The Register will continue with its current staff, which includes editor Pam Reinig, advertising salesperson and graphic designer Nikole Hoffman and front desk manager Brenda Miehe.

Courier Press Editor Correne Martin and Register Press Editor Pam Reinig contributed to this article.

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