Joe Friedrichs

Cook County News-Herald sold to new owners

UPDATE: According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, the News-Herald sold to a group based in New Jersey operating under the name Fifteen Grand LLC. The transaction was completed at 8:50 a.m. Monday, Nov. 30. The newspaper sold for $192,000, according to state records.
The entity Fifteen Grand LLC, based in Morris Plains, NJ, appears to have little to no history doing business in Minnesota or anywhere in the United States. An extensive online search for information about the company yielded no background or details about what the company does or its history.

The phone number listed for the company is a Chicago number.

The Cook County News-Herald, the newspaper that has been providing local news from Grand Marais for 129 years, has been sold.

The sale was confirmed by two reliable sources, News-Herald Editor Brian Larsen and commercial realtor Steve Bragg.

The News-Herald has a fluid history of ownership dating back to its founding in May 1891 by DeLacy Wood as the Grand Marais Pioneer.
Wood, who owned a chain of 48 newspapers across Minnesota, sold the paper to Christopher Murphy in 1893. Murphy renamed the paper, the Cook County Herald. In 1906, John A. Blackwell started a competing newspaper, the Grand Marais News. Having two newspapers was short-lived. In 1907, Murphy sold his paper to Blackwell and the name became the Cook County News-Herald.

The News-Herald went through several ownership transitions throughout the years. Owners were Matt Johnson, Ade Toftey and Ben Scott, Frank Raff, Richard and Betty Base, Ken and Phyllis Kettunen, Jack and Patti Becklund, and Steve Fernlund.

Ade Toftey had one of the longest tenures at the News-Herald, owning it from 1936 to 1971.

In 1999, Steve Fernlund sold the News-Herald to a newspaper conglomerate Murphy-McGinnis Media, which led to Ken Kettunen’s son, Hal, establishing the Cook County Star.

Murphy-McGinnis Media restructured and sold the News-Herald to another conglomerate, Superior Publishing.

And finally, the last ownership change–until now–was in November 2008 when Hal and Deidre Kettunen purchased the News-Herald, combining the Cook County Star and News-Herald operations.