With Rockwell newspaper shutting down, Cerro Gordo supervisors discuss future of newspaper notices

ROCKWELL — After 130 years, the Pioneer Enterprise based in Rockwell published its last newspaper on Thursday, and with that, it only leaves two Cerro Gordo County-based newspapers. The county’s Board of Supervisors during a workshop session earlier this week discussed the situation of the future publication of the county’s legal notices.

County Auditor Adam Wedmore says Iowa Code states that the county should be publishing those items in three newspapers. He says one option would be to select a newspaper from an adjoining county that has subscribers in Cerro Gordo County, such as the newspapers in Garner and Hampton. The other is to just go with the county’s two remaining publications.

He says, “That is the interpretation of the Iowa Newspaper Association. They’ve recommended this to other counties as well that since there’s only two newspaper publishers in the county, that’s the extent that the county can satisfy that requirement. County Attorney Carlyle Dalen does agree with that interpretation, he would support that decision. Our external auditors would also then review to make sure that we are publishing correctly based on Carlyle’s interpretation of that.”

Many have questioned whether it’s time for Iowa Code to be changed to no longer require city and county governments to publish notices in newspapers due to most of those entities having websites and social media accounts accessible to the public for free.

Wedmore says the county still has to publish in the two remaining newspapers in the county until that law is changed.  “Currently we are exceeding the minimum requirements. We are putting everything on our website, as well as everything from our office goes on our social media accounts as well, so we’re already exceeding the publication requirements. We’re also issuing news releases to all the media. The sticking point is, yes, Iowa Code is outdated, is does require those official print publications, and it’s getting more and more difficult to find those three print publications because they just don’t exist.”

Since the supervisors discussed the issue during a workshop session, they’ll vote on what to do next at a meeting in the near future.