RAYMOND, Minn.-After nearly 118 years of publication, The Raymond/Prinsburg News is no more.

The weekly newspaper serving the communities of Raymond and Prinsburg in Kandiyohi County delivered the news in its final edition July 4.

"It was a very hard decision,'' said Ted Almen, who along with his wife, Kari Jo, have published The News since they acquired it just over 20 years ago.

The Raymond/Prinsburg News announced the closing with a front page modeled after the original Raymond News as published with its founding Nov. 23, 1900. This last edition marked the 6,124th week of continuous publication.

"Sad to see that happen,'' said Ardell Tensen, mayor of Raymond, of the paper's closing.

Tensen said the paper's decision to cease publication came as a surprise to him and many in the community. He said it will be different not having a community newspaper reporting on the local news and publishing announcements of upcoming events.

The News focused its coverage on a rural area including Raymond (population 764) and Prinsburg (population 497) and including two K-12 school systems, MACCRAY and Central Minnesota Christian School. Raymond is about 18 miles southwest of Willmar.

Although the decision to close the paper caught many by surprise, it was actually a long time coming. Publishers Ted and Kari Jo Almen explained to readers in a front-page column that the paper has not been profitable since they acquired it.

Though there were some weeks when there was sufficient advertising to cover the costs, in most weeks, funds from the Almens' Clara City Herald and Kerkhoven Banner newspapers were needed to help cover the expenses. " ... and that just isn't fair to us, nor is it a responsible way to run a business,'' stated Ted Almen in the paper.

"And so it is with much reckoning and sadness that we announce today in this special issue, that the final run of the Raymond-Prinsburg News has come off the press,'' stated the publishers.

Almen attributed some of the financial challenges to the changes taking place in small, rural communities. The number of retail businesses has been declining.

People aren't supporting their local newspapers as they once did by purchasing ads and subscriptions either, Almen said.

Circulation has declined. The Raymond/Prinsburg News was one of the state's smallest weekly newspapers with a circulation of 400. He said the circulation was closer to 600 when they first acquired it.

Raymond loses both a business and a part of its identity with the newspaper's closing, Almen said. Community newspapers are an important part of a community's makeup, serving as a public forum while helping tell the stories of its residents and giving voice to their aspirations.

Current subscribers to The News will receive the Clara City Herald in its place. Almen said readers in the Raymond and Prinsburg areas will continue to have their local news covered. He said the Herald will continue to report on area events as before. The staff of the Clara City Herald and The News worked together and jointly shared the duties of covering events in the area.