Three North Dakota newspapers acquired by NorDak Publishing

May 1, 2021

In the midst of change, one thing remains constant: a focus on community.

Last Thursday, The Hazen Star, The Beacon and The Center Republican were sold to NorDak Publishing. The sale also includes the Dollar Saver shopper.

Julie Bergman of Grimes, McGovern & Associates represented the Gackle family in the sale.

It's a significant change for the local papers. The Star and Beacon were owned by the Gackle family and BHG News Inc. for over 50 years prior to the sale. But while the change provides opportunity for growth, the new owners are dedicated to the same vision that inspired the old. “My approach to community newspapers is we want to serve the communities,” Kelsey Majeske, the new publisher for the Star, Beacon and Republican, said. “We're here to keep things as local as we can and to provide news the community isn't going to get anywhere else.”

J. Louis Mullen, the new owner of the papers, has similar views. “If you were to pick up any weekly paper across the country, you'd find your hometown paper is one of the best,” Mullen, who is from Buffalo, Wyoming, said. “Local stories, local contributors and strong local business. They make up the heart of your community and the heart of America.”

Over the past couple years, Mullen has been putting this focus on local news to practice in other communities throughout North and South Dakota, as well as other states. That passion caught the eyes of Mike and Jill Gackle.

“They came to Louie,” Majeske said. “Just us having bought other papers in the area was appealing to them.”

A key for the Gackles was the knowledge that Mullen was also interested in preserving community papers, telling stories from local sports, local events and local people. It resonated with the goal of BHG Inc. to see newspapers reflect the regions they represent. Mike Gackle, BHG Inc. president, said, “Years ago, Don coined the phrase 'A Family of Family Newspapers' and it stuck. The newspaper staff of this region have been family to us. They've produced high–quality, award–winning newspapers that served the readers and advertisers well. We're confident they'll continue to be in good hands under new ownership.”

In 1968, the Gackles purchased The Hazen Star. Two years later, the Gackles acquired the assets of the former Beulah Independent; the name was later changed to the Beulah Beacon. The Center Republican was purchased in 1985 from the Borlaug family, along with the Washburn Leader, Wilton News and Underwood News. “The Gackles have been great to work with and are being very accommodating,” Majeske said.

Majeske said NorDak Publishing doesn't intend to significantly change the Star, Beacon and Republican. Instead, they hope to build on the community tradition to help guide these newspapers into the future. “We're going to try to put new vigor into the papers,” she said. “We want to get them to be the best that they can be and give them their own identity.”

NorDak Publishing's other newspapers in North Dakota include the Ransom County Gazette in Lisbon, the Sargent County Teller in Milnor, the Cass County Reporter in Casselton, the Traill County Tribune in Mayville and the Emmons County Record in Linton.

Mullen also owns four papers in South Dakota: the Prairie Pioneer in Pollock, the Mobridge Tribune in Mobridge, the West River Eagle in Eagle Butte and the Potter County News in Gettysburg.

BHG Inc. continues to own the McLean County Independent, Leader-News and Central McLean News-Journal. The Garrison office prints about 30 newspapers on a weekly basis, as well as real estate guides, magazines and books.