GRANGEVILLE – The Idaho County Free Press is returning to its roots of local ownership.
Effective as of Monday, Dec. 1, ownership of the 133-year-old weekly newspaper is with publisher Sarah Klement. Eagle Newspapers Inc., which has owned the Free Press for 38 years, announced the transaction this week.
“We are delighted that our family-owned company has found a community steward such as Sarah to carry on the Free Press’ tradition of quality journalism,” said Denny Smith, Eagle’s owner. “The Free Press will continue to provide independent coverage of the major news and topics affecting the people of Idaho County.”
Eagle’s president, Joe Petshow, said the dedicated staff members of the Free Press enable it to publish a quality newspaper on par or better than all others in Idaho and beyond.
“The Free Press is a result of continued hard work by Sarah and her staff,” Petshow said. “It’s a quality newspaper and a reflection of a quality community.”
Klement has served as Free Press publisher since October 2015, prior to which she served as sales representative since 2011 under prior publisher, Andy McNab.
“I fell in love with this paper when I was 16,” Klement said. “The staff here is second to none. Some of them have been serving this community with quality journalism longer than I’ve been alive and, as owner, I will ensure that this paper is still providing quality journalism long after I’m gone.”
Klement said this community, the readers and local businesses will continue to be her focus moving forward.
“These are exciting times. The offerings we have for readers and local businesses are all designed to encourage growth and help inform our communities,” Klement said. “It’s truly an honor to have the opportunity to help continue this legacy.”
Klement is the daughter of Lance and Jennifer Holcomb of Grangeville. She graduated from Grangeville High School in 2008. She and her husband, Dean Klement, of White Bird, have three daughters.
The Idaho County Free Press was started by Aaron F. Parker in 1886, staying in local ownership until 1981. That year, Eagle Newspapers purchased the Free Press from owners Robert and Marilyn Stolley, who had operated the publication since 1973, following its sale from John L. Olmsted and Eugene Q. Olmsted, whose family had owned the paper since its 1924 purchase by E.M. “Pop” Olmsted.
Currently, the Free Press employs 10 people and produces both the weekly newspaper, as well as The Shopper.
Eagle Newspapers, which is headquartered in Salem, will continue to publish its three other Oregon newspapers in Polk County, Hood River and The Dalles, as well as newspapers, magazines and shoppers in Washington and Idaho. The company also owns a press plant in Salem.