FORT FAIRFIELD – The Fort Fairfield Review has been the newspaper of this central Aroostook County potato community for more than a century, but the paper reports that its Jan. 7 edition likely will be its last.
The paper’s owner couldn’t be reached Tuesday, but its editor, Kim Millard, wrote in a column in Tuesday’s edition: “If something doesn’t happen, there may be only one more edition of the paper after this week.
“It doesn’t seem possible that the Review will simply be no more,” Millard wrote.
For 86 of its 112-year history, the Review was owned by the Harvey family. Tom Harvey, now an English teacher in South Paris, was the last Harvey editor. He sold the paper to David Henley of Woodstock, New Brunswick.
Messages left at David Henley’s home were not returned.
Henley owned newspapers in New Brunswick that were sold to the J.D. Irving newspaper group last year. He still owns the Review and the Katahdin Times in Maine.
“I had not heard, for God’s sake,” Tom Harvey said by telephone Tuesday afternoon. “My father and grandfather would spin in their graves.
“I’m kind of speechless,” he said. “This is more than sad, more than shocking. It’s partly because of family heritage, I guess, but I can’t see a town without its newspaper.
“I hate to see any newspaper die,” he said. “Tragic may be too strong, but I can’t think of another word that comes closer.”
Millard’s column in Tuesday’s Review said some were “holding out hope someone will buy the paper in the next week.” Millard could not be reached, and nobody answered the phones at the newspaper’s offices.
The Harvey family bought the newspaper in 1902 when it was known as the Northern Leader. The name was changed to the Review and published by Chandler Harvey until his death in 1940.
Kingdon Harvey, his son and Tom Harvey’s father, was editor from 1940 until Tom became publisher in 1979, then sold it to Henley in 1988. The paper’s circulation, about 2,400, covers parts of Limestone, Easton, Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield.
“It just got to be too much for my wife and I,” he said. “It was just too hard with 17 to 18 hour days, sometimes seven days a week. We could not keep it up.”
Marcia Langley, Tom Harvey’s sister and a daughter of Kingdon Harvey, heard about the closing Tuesday morning.
“I didn’t even know, but it’s a very sad thing,” she said.
Kathryn J. Olmstead, publisher of Aroostook County’s Echoes magazine and a journalism professor at the University of Maine, called the demise of the newspaper “the end of an era.
“I knew King Harvey and he had built a reputation,” she said Tuesday. “It really did have a role to play in that community. I hate to see any small town in Maine lose its newspaper,” she said.
“It was probably a struggle to keep it going, but it is an important component of the community,” Olmstead said.
Town Manager Dan Foster heard of the closing Tuesday.
“It was kind of taken for granted, and then we don’t have it anymore,” he said. “On the face of it, I don’t think people fully recognize the impact of losing the newspaper.”
He said the weekly provided the town, and many of its former residents, via mail subscriptions, news of the community’s minutiae.
“It’s kind of the glue of the fabric of the community,” Foster said. “It will certainly create a void, and it’s hard to envision how it will be filled.”
Marcia Reed, editor of the Review from 1993 to 2001, called it a “wonderful little paper.”
“I’m devastated and I’m grieved,” she said.