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A group of Monessen-area business leaders says its newspaper will begin operations May 2, "if not sooner."
At a chamber of commerce event Tuesday in Monessen, Mid Mon Valley Publishing LLC announced that The Mon Valley Independent will be a six-day-a-week, afternoon newspaper.
The Mon Valley Independent is the first new newspaper launched in the wake of the closing on Dec. 31 of Monessen's Valley Independent and the McKeesport Daily News by their parent company, Trib Total Media.
Mid Mon Valley Publishing has announced plans to circulate the new newspaper in Mon-Yough communities such as Elizabeth, Sutersville and West Newton, but McKeesport is not part of its current coverage plans.
“When Trib Total Media closed our newspaper, it was a sad day for our area,” said Keith Bassi, a Charleroi attorney and one of the investors behind Mid Mon Valley Publishing.
“There are a lot of people who want to have a newspaper to read," he said. "They want to follow the news and sports of the area. They want to know what is going on in their community, who dies, and anything else that is pertinent."
John Eckert, a North Charleroi resident who previously worked for Trib Total Media, was named the general manager. The managing editor will be Jeff Oliver, who worked for The Valley Independent for over 33 years writing news and sports, while the advertising director will be Linda Schaum, who also has over 30 years with The Valley Independent in advertising.
The Valley Independent traced its origins to a newspaper founded in 1902 as the Monessen Independent.
Other local newspapers, including the Herald-Standard of Uniontown and the Observer-Reporter of Washington and beefed up their coverage of the Charleroi, Monessen and Donora areas in response to the closure of the Valley Independent, but Bassi said the area needs a strong voice to call its own.
“I’m excited to get going," Eckert said. "This is a big undertaking, but I have some great people to work with. One thing I am certain of is that we have the support of the Mid Mon Valley residents who have missed having a newspaper they can call their own on a daily basis.”
Bassi added that the new publication plans to hire many of the former employees of The Valley Independent and that process will begin soon under the guidance of Eckert.
(Photo courtesy Mid Mon Valley Publishing LLC, via Facebook)
Originally published February 10, 2016.