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home : current news : current news July 22, 2018

11/7/2017 12:50:00 PM
The Nugget Newspaper changes hands
Louie Mullen and his father, Tom Mullen (not pictured), are the new owners of The Nugget Newspaper. photo provided
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Louie Mullen and his father, Tom Mullen (not pictured), are the new owners of The Nugget Newspaper. photo provided

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

After 35 years of ownership, publisher Kiki Dolson has sold The Nugget Newspaper.

Tom Mullen and J. Louis Mullen, who jointly and separately own community newspapers in Wyoming, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon, took ownership last week.

"It's time to retire," Dolson said. "I'm really happy with the buyers because they are still family-owned, with huge amounts of newspaper experience. I think they're going to bring something to the newspaper with their broad experience that I couldn't."

Louie Mullen, who lives in Buffalo, Wyoming, said that he and his father, Tom, were drawn by the quality of the newspaper and the vibrancy of the Sisters community.

"Sisters is a fantastic place," he said. "The local ownership that is here is a representation of how people feel about their community. Small businesses are the backbone of this country, and that gets lost on the national plane. All you have to do is go down Cascade Avenue and look right and look left and you see that people care about their community."

Mullen noted that the paper will continue to be operated by the local staff - some of whom have been working for The Nugget for more than two decades.

"It's the best-looking paper... the editorial content is great - and local. The staff is fantastic," he said.

Dolson said that the highlight of her tenure as publisher has been "working with my staff and developing those long-term friendships, and creating a product that was so well-received by the Sisters community. I'll miss (the staff); I'll miss the day-to-day. I really enjoyed it. It's always been fun being 'in the know,' but also a huge responsibility.

"Sisters is such an involved, vital community," Dolson continued. "The newspaper has always been the voice of this outspoken, active town. There is always some controversy; the sign of an involved, caring community. When I and my then-partner, Erik Dolson, first owned the newspaper, in 1982, the big controversy involved the businesses and dumpster pads. Yes, Sisters has changed."

Dolson recalled Sisters as it was in the early 1980s - much smaller and very intimate.

"The chamber office back then was in the president's place of business. I remember making huge wreaths to hang throughout the town in Toby and Eva Poole's barn. I think Toby and Glen Miller went out and cut a whole tree down for us to use.

"I remember the activists Nancy Zirkle, Betty Marquart, Dorro Sokol and Cliff Clemens - all passionate about this community. I think about Bill and Jan Reed, who were so instrumental in developing Sisters into the town it is now... The community has grown so much since then, with the revitalization of the downtown core, public restrooms and even a splash pad!"

She said that she is gratified that the Mullens share the sense of responsibility she always felt in community journalism.

"I am honored to have been a part (of Sisters' development) and I am glad the Mullen family shares the same sense of importance and responsibility a small-town newspaper plays in the community," she said.

Leith Easterling, who has worked for The Nugget for 26 years, recalled starting in 1991 with no computer experience at all, when weekly paste-up was still done with X-acto knives and wax.

"(It was) a three-person staff for quite a while," she said. "Long hours; late hours - but, always excited, always loved the outcome. I always loved working for the newspaper. (Dolson) has always been a great boss and a really good friend...You don't stay with somebody for 26 years if you don't really like somebody and love your job. You just don't. So that really says something about her - and about the newspaper."

Dolson plans to stay in the Sisters community and will continue to operate Furry Friends Foundation, which helps pets remain in their homes by operating a pet-food bank, and providing spay/neuter sponsorships and assistance with emergency medical needs to families in financial hardship (see related story, page 20).

She expressed deep appreciation for Sisters:

"I just want to thank the community for embracing the newspaper for the past 35 years, and I also want to thank the business community that has been so supportive, also, these past 35 years."

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