Employees at two sister papers — the Steele County Times and the Dodge County Independent — are using a GoFundMe post to raise awareness about the importance of community newspapers.

Like many newspapers across the country, the two weeklies, with a combined circulation of about 3,600 subscribers, have seen revenue plummet as digital and social media have yanked away advertising revenue and readers.

“The last thing we want to do is close down another newspaper … especially in an area that has lost two in the last year,” said publisher Rick Bussler, referring to the Byron Review and Dodge Center Star Herald, which folded in December. “We’re trying to do everything we can to keep [our] papers going.”

Although the GoFundMe post has a goal of raising $50,000, the long-term solution is getting people to subscribe and businesses to advertise, Bussler said.

Communities often don’t realize what they could lose until it’s gone, said Annie Anderson, the weeklies’ ad director who helped initiate the GoFundMe post. Small-town papers keep people engaged in the schools, sports and local events and ensure that city and county officials are held accountable, she said.

“We want to make sure they continue to get their hometown news,” Anderson said. “If the community wants a newspaper, they need to step it up and be part of the solution.”

Mary Lynn Smith

Zumbrota

Covered bridge gets a temporary cover

Workers were installing a temporary roof last week on Zumbrota’s historic covered bridge after the original roof of the 150-year-old structure collapsed during a late February blizzard.

The bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the only covered timber truss bridge in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. It’s one of about two dozen covered bridges statewide, most of which are much younger.

Built in 1869, the 120-foot-long bridge crosses the North Fork of the Zumbro River. It was moved to the Goodhue County Fairgrounds in 1932 after the state highway department built a steel bridge to accommodate increasing traffic. It was moved again in 1970 to Covered Bridge Park near City Hall. In 1997, the bridge was moved to its existing spot spanning the North Fork about one block west of its original location.

Renovations continue. A festival to celebrate the bridge’s sesquicentennial has been scheduled for August.

Matt McKinney