ASHLAND, Va - The Herald-Progress, a weekly community newspaper covering Hanover County, printed its final edition Thursday, after 137 years in business. Long time readers of the paper, which was first printed in 1881, streamed into the Ashland office Thursday to grab a copy of the final edition and thank the paper's employees.
"Thank you so much for all you guys have done for this community. We sure appreciate it," said one reader. "Hate to see another tradition go."
Tennessee based Lakewood Publishers, Inc. owns the Herald-Progress and said the "the paper was no longer commercially viable."
Employees spent Thursday packing up their office space, flipping through old archives, and greeting longtime readers who stopped by to send their well wishes.
"When they told me, I thought I was going to cry," said Julia Wigginton, the Graphic Designer for the paper. "It's just been the news for Hanover county."
Flipping through copies of the paper that date back to 1919 provides a view of American History with Hanover County lens. Betty Luck, a news assistant and receptionist, said their readers will miss coverage of hyper local moments like wedding announcements, local school events, and annual festivals that built a community feel.
"It just makes you think of them as real people, and wonder more about them," Luck said. " Hanover County, and Ashland in particular, is a small town at heart, and that seems to be going by the wayside today, but it's still here and it's great. "
Wigginton said like many community papers around the country, declining ad revenue has been rough on the paper's financial position. Many of the small businesses that used to purchase ads can no longer afford to advertise in community papers and larger publications, Wigginton said.
The Herald Progress also publishes The Caroline Progress. With both papers shutting down, three community newspapers in Central Virginia have closed already this year. Earlier in 2018, the Hopewell News announced they were ending operations.
Wigginton said after seeing the outpouring of support from community members Thursday, their employees are hopeful a local entity would show interest in reviving the Herald-Progress at some point.
The paper's archives will be donated to Randolph-Macon College, or a historical society.