South County News reaches 10 years of publishing

Left to right: SCN board members Sheri Freeland, Wes Schmitt, Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe, Rob Ball, Steve Ellis, and Justin Gibson (inset). Group photo by Zach Elmblad. Inset photo by Kaitlyn Wheaton.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe and Steve Ellis

This June 2023 issue marks 10 years since the first delivery of the South County News. During the last decade, many local newspapers have closed their doors or struggle to continue operations. But this publication is a true community paper, supported by local businesses and readers. It’s a different business model, and we feel fortunate to continue publishing our monthly paper which focuses on the good things happening in southern Kalamazoo County.

A bit of history

After the Kalamazoo Gazette published the Commercial-Express from 2007-2012, the communities of Schoolcraft and Vicksburg were without a paper for nearly a year. A group of community activists and leaders spent that year planning and brainstorming, figuring out if the paper could be resurrected without an office and what that could look like. In June of 2013, the small group, led by the enthusiasm and experience of Sue Moore, wrote, sold, printed and delivered the first edition. Since that time, our communities have recognized the importance of local coverage and have supported this effort with advertising dollars and readership donations. And the non-profit status granted by the IRS has helped sustain the business, which now includes modest amounts for staff and writers to support their efforts.

Each month, more than 11,000 papers are printed and delivered to homes and businesses in the area. The paper’s focus is South County local news: village and township government and happenings, school board meetings, student achievements, sports, human interest stories and obituaries. We have regular columnists, reporters, and community members who write and contribute each month.

What makes us different?

Throughout the last ten years, the South County News has printed approximately 4,300 pages of local news and advertisements. Included in these pages are over 4,500 stories, 6,700 pictures, and 1,700 free obituaries. With our large fall, winter and spring issues of high school sports team photos, we run those of close to 2,000 individuals each year. If not for the South County News, these features and photos would not have appeared.

Current board members

Current members of the South County News board of trustees are diverse in their expertise and background:

President Rob Ball is the current copy editor and brings a specialized skill set after 30 years of reporting and copy reading a daily newspaper in Royal Oak.

Secretary and treasurer Wes Schmitt is a retired accountant and long-time Schoolcraft resident who has been involved in many local projects and organizations and was part of the South County News grass-roots effort in 2013.

Advertising sales consultant Steve Ellis lends his advice and expertise after working for 23 years in advertising sales at the Kalamazoo Gazette. He was an important part of the push to begin publishing in 2013.

Advertising sales manager Sheri Freeland is a familiar, friendly face to area businesses and agencies and has been involved with the South County News for many years.

Graphic designer Justin Gibson has provided artistic and technical skills since 2014, “working his magic” on each monthly edition.

Editor/Publisher Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe assumed the role after Sue Moore’s death in 2020 and is a retired Vicksburg Community Schools teacher.

Going Forward

We continue to meet to discuss improvements to our existing format and to share ideas for future coverage, including ways to reach all ages of readers. Because of ongoing community support, the future is bright for continuing to showcase the good news in South County.

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