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The Jefferson Review and Scio News will publish their last issues on Thursday, Dec. 27, unless someone steps up to buy them, said Glen Albrethsen, who owns and publishes both papers.

“We are sad to go but the financial reality is we can’t continue the way we are going,” he said.

The number of foreclosure notices published in both papers accounted for most of the weeklies’ income, Albrethsen said.

But then last April, Oregon SB1552 was passed allowing for foreclosure mediation, and “publication of foreclosure notices dropped precipitously,” he said. “We lost 80 percent of our revenue in a virtual blink of an eye and have been running off reserves built up from previous years.”

Circulation of both papers also has declined, contributing to even more financial problems. Albrethsen said circulation for each paper is about 400, down from a high of 700.

He attributes the drop to the “decline of general newspaper circulation, and we never got a website to the public partly because we were looking for an easy way to do a pay wall but we never got to that point. Lots of newspapers were quick to jump to the web without tying it to a subscription so people got used to seeing news for free.”

The jobs of five freelancers who gathered the news for both papers will be affected, Albrethsen said. There also are three full-time employees. All have been notified that the papers are probably closing.

“I don’t know how the communities will react to the news,” he said. “Some people will be sad. This next year would have been the 123rd year for the Jefferson Review. It has been published consecutively since January 1890.”

Albrethsen bought the Scio paper in 1997 when it was a monthly and he began publishing it as a weekly in 1998.

He and Todd Hakes, the former owner and publisher of the Jefferson paper, worked together prior to Albrethsen taking over in 2003.

Laurie Hieb, the executive director of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, notified newspaper representatives Wednesday that the papers were for sale.

In an email she said “the asking price is greatly reduced from what it might have been otherwise. This is a cash only sale for serious buyers.”

Included in the sale are subscriber and advertiser lists, cash on hand, accounts receivable, websites, access to current staff/freelancers and computer equipment. Buying or renting the office building in Jefferson is optional and may be handled separately.

A thousand dollars in earnest money is required for full financial disclosure. Inquiries must be made before Friday, Dec. 21.

Albrethsen can be reached at 541-971-3217.

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Cathy Ingalls is the city government reporter. She can be reached at cathy.ingalls@lee.net or at 541-812-6094.

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