It was late June of 1999 that activity at the Portage County Gazette office on Strongs Avenue ramped up. The crew was readying the first issue of the newspaper, due out on July 2 of that year.
It’s hard to believe that was 15 years ago. We all wondered if there would be a market for a weekly newspaper, and found out in short order there was.
Retired Editor Gene Kemmeter is responsible for bringing the Gazette to fruition. As a reporter for the Stevens Point Journal, he – as with many of us – was disappointed with the twist the daily paper had taken after local owners sold it to a national publisher. The local news many of us had come to expect from the Journal began to tail off, and Gene, along with his old boss, Journal Editor George Rogers, felt it was time to do something about it.
They got together with other former Journal employees and decided to launch a weekly paper, Gene resurrected the Gazette name – it was a publication that ceased operating in 1923. His idea was to limit the new publication to local news.