Don Russell did everything to conjure up a buyer for Sierra County’s Mountain Messenger.

Don Russell
Don Russell

He ran ads in his state press association newsletter (yes, this very one). He shopped the paper to other publishers.

He alerted the media. And the media responded, publishing and broadcasting colorful features about a rural newsman and his inky weekly miracle that was founded in 1853.

But still, no buyer was forthcoming.

And it came to pass that the Downieville editor/publisher, 70, finally announced he’d just retire and walk way from the paper.

But behold, a local has stepped up.

Carl Butz, 71, takes over Jan. 20. He may modernize, but he says the Thursday weekly, circulation about 2,400, will continue to print.

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“I had pretty well talked him out of it,” Russell told SFGATE. “This is a losing business. But he’s an old-timer, and well-connected to the community, related to half the county. It’s a very easy and casual hand-off. The paper is in good hands.”

For 30 years, Don Russell has been the Downieville newspaper … and vice versa. California Publisher profiled him in 1996.

Thanks, Don (and Carl).