Crow Wing County has a new official paper.
Tuesday the board voted to accept the weekly NewsHopper’s bid for the county’s printing and publishing in 2013.
The county received a combined bid for printing services from the Brainerd Dispatch, Crosby-Ironton Courier and Lake Country Echo, but didn’t consider it. The county listed the combined bids as non-responsive after they arrived at 1:34 p.m. Dec. 5 when the bid opening was at 10 a.m. that day. The Dispatch has been the official publication of the county for decades.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Brainerd Dispatch Publisher Tim Bogenschutz said there was a mistake on the time and the Dispatch thought the bid deadline was 5 p.m. on Dec. 5.
County publications include legal advertising, financial statements, employee ads and the delinquent tax list among others. The county spent $85,143 on its printing and publishing in 2012, with the majority mandated by the state in order to keep residents informed. Commissioner Paul Koering said with the Dispatch bid’s late arrival it looked as though the county had only one bid to consider. The Crosby-Ironton Courier was awarded the second publication for the financial statement.
At Tuesday’s meeting, when asked if interested parties in the gallery should be allowed to speak on the issue, Commissioner Paul Thiede asked it that wouldn’t be putting the county in a position of choosing from the best of two salesmen and they weren’t required to hear a sales pitch. Thiede said if the board was convinced by the Dispatch, the NewsHopper’s only recourse would be to file a lawsuit against the county and that wasn’t something he wanted to incur.
Koering said he was concerned deviating from the bid time would be setting a precedent.
Commissioner Rosemary Franzen said she’d accept the county attorney’s legal opinion the Dispatch bid was not in time to be considered. The NewsHopper is a free publication that reaches people through saturated bulk mailing to some areas and is distributed to businesses, such as grocery stores.
The NewsHopper is owned and published by Eric and Laura Heglund. It is printed in Detroit Lakes. The publication was founded in 2000. The Heglunds operate from their home in Ironton and from an office on South Sixth Street in Brainerd. The Brainerd office is open by appointment.
In its bid, the NewsHopper stated its mail distribution in Crow Wing County grew from 4,428 in 2011 to 9,270 in 2012. Last year, the NewsHopper reported a mail circulation of 4,042 in Brainerd, 1,683 in Crosby and 1,685 in Deerwood with smaller numbers in Emily, Garrison, and Ironton. It had no distribution in Baxter, Crosslake, Fort Ripley, Jenkins, Merrifield, Nisswa or Pequot Lakes.
Heglund, reached by phone after the county board meeting, said his publication is available at 125 businesses throughout the region stretching north to Grand Rapids.
Heglund said the NewsHopper will look to add market areas, which typically are dependent on advertising inserts to go to a specific area although they do promotional bulk mailings as well. Heglund said he expects to keep what they have now and add to it as interest dictates, such as bulk mailing to Pequot Lakes. Heglund said his publication is also available online for those who are not in mailing distribution areas. Heglund said they feel strongly the printed page is more active for readers and that is why they are continuing to publish their paper as well as offering a digital version. The NewsHopper, which is published Saturdays, opened an office in Brainerd in 2007.
Heglund said the NewsHopper was the official publication for Aitkin County for a couple of years about five years ago.