For many, many years, The Bulletin was the official newspaper for the City of Cottage Grove. It’s where the city published its notices of public hearings and other important items of business.
Over time, The Bulletin’s owner consolidated its offices and published out of Red Wing. The city council continued to run its notices in the newspaper that was working to cover local news.
When The Bulletin went out of business, the City of Cottage Grove moved its notices to a regional paper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Last December, it again decided to run its notices in the Pioneer Press.
In early December, the Cottage Grove Journal inquired about the process the city would use to determine its legal newspaper for 2022. We heard nothing back. After several more emails, we were told that a vote would be held in early January. We asked whom we needed to contact about the matter and received no answer.
On Monday of this week, we started the day to this email: “Staff will recommend at the Jan. 5 City Council meeting that the City Council designate the St. Paul Pioneer Press as the newspaper for official publication in 2022.”
That’s a shame. The City of Cottage Grove worked so hard during the pandemic to support local businesses.
Public notices should be in the newspaper where they would be most likely to be seen. That obviously is in the Cottage Grove Journal. Our circulation numbers, incidentally, are higher than those The Bulletin had within Cottage Grove.
We have a lot of work to do to make the Cottage Grove Journal better. It’s been a difficult task, to say the least, to start a community newspaper in a pandemic. And this is a serious blow to us. We won’t diminish that. Our investment in this community and our future here is significant, to say the least. Postage, printing, transportation and wages add up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
We were actually made a promise last year from a city official that we would be named the city’s official newspaper. Similar statements were made at a city council meeting.
We’ve been shaking our heads for two days now.
As it’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s, somehow that statement that we wouldn’t be considered was able to get to us, but no one is in the office to explain the decision.
In short, no one from the city ever contacted us for any information on our publication. We were not allowed to bid on the public notices.
That being said, here’s a nice primer on public notices, and their importance. It’s from the Star Herald in Scottsbluff, Neb. But before that, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t put in a plug: Please subscribe to the Cottage Grove Journal! Thank you for your support of local journalism.
-John McLoone, Paperboy and Publisher Cottage Grove Journal [email protected] 651-347-1623 *** Imagine a government holding secret meetings, giving bids to friends without allowing anyone to know bids were being accepted. Without the publication of public (legal) notices, it is not hard to imagine.
Public notices are announcements from all levels and branches of government, from businesses and individuals. These are legal notices to let people know about government actions and they also alert people of actions that could impact one’s family, community or business. The purpose of printing them is to help you be aware of what your government is doing.
These notices first appeared before the advent of newspapers, according to the Public Notice Resource Center, when they were first posted in a community’s public square. They made their way into newspapers when a public notice was put into the English language newspaper, a court newspaper called The Oxford Gazette, in 1665. Later, after being renamed The London Gazette, the newspaper carried notices from the King’s Court, along with public notices from London officials as well as notices from outlying regions.
Here in America, our forefathers in 1789 passed the Acts of the First Session of the Congress, which required all bills, orders, resolutions and congressional votes to be published in at least three publicly available newspapers.
Today, most public notices are required to appear in one official newspaper.
The notices could be announcing an upcoming meeting or sharing the minutes from a recent meeting. If you want to try to put in a bid on a project a government agency is doing, you can find a bid request in the public records. The announcement of the closing of an estate or a number of other legal transactions requiring letting you know it is here, you will find the notice keeping you, the public, in the know.
Each year your city and county governments vote on a newspaper to be their legal newspaper, the publication they will publish their public notices in. School boards and other agencies do the same.
Why not put these notices on the internet and not in print?
We, as do most papers nowadays, do publish the legal notices on our website, but it is still important for it to be in print. Once in print, the notices cannot be changed and future changes in technology will not impact the readability.
Newspapers also play an important role as a community’s independent recorder of history and a community’s watchdog.
Over the years there have been numerous attempts to remove the requirement of publishing legal/public notices in newspapers. The argument is the cost savings to taxpayers; however, without the requirement to publish these notices could find themselves posted away from the view of many tax payers. Out of sight a government agency could spend extra taxpayer dollars on bids given to friends, instead of opening those bids to all who are interested.