MADAWASKA, Maine — A decades-old northern Maine weekly newspaper has been acquired by Bangor Publishing Co., owner of the Bangor Daily News and several Aroostook County weeklies.

Bangor Publishing announced Friday it is the new owner of the St. John Valley Times of Madawaska, effective Nov. 16.

The Bangor-based company acquired the 58-year-old St. John Valley Times from Walls Newspapers of Birmingham, Alabama.

“The St. John Valley Times is an important part of a really special place in Maine, and we’re committed to finding ways to help keep it serving the valley,” said Todd Benoit, president of the BDN. “We’re very fortunate that Walls Newspapers built such a strong newspaper with an excellent staff.”

According to BDN administration, there are no immediate plans for big changes at the Madawaska weekly, which is published every Wednesday and has a website updated regularly throughout the week.

According to Lee Walls, president and CEO of Walls Newspapers, the timing was right to turn the company’s attention closer to home while at the same time ensuring the St. John Valley Times went to a new owner with strong Maine ties.

“Walls Newspapers has been proud to own the St. John Valley Times for more than 40 years,” Walls said. “We acquired it as part of a purchase of a daily newspaper in another state, and the majority of the papers we own are dailies in the South East. When the BDN group showed an interest, we realized it was a good move for us, for BDN, and for the St. John Valley Times.”

Madawaska Town Manager Ryan Pelletier said late Friday he is looking forward to the new media relationship.

“I think it’s great,” Pelletier said. “I think it will be really positive for the local paper to have an organization like [Bangor Publishing] as its owner [because] people have come to respect the BDN over the years as a leader in the news and to have our local paper be part of that will be good for the region.”

Pelletier said he is confident the St. John Valley Times will become increasingly reconnected to the local community under the new ownership.

“It’s been troubling to me that local connection may not have been there in recent years,” he said. “I am hoping with this new acquisition, it will return.”

Charles “Ken” Theriault, a former state senator and longtime volunteer on numerous Madawaska civic committees and boards, said Friday he was glad to hear his local paper would continue to publish community news.

“I always think about the people who work and are employed there and my first thought is for them,” said Theriault, a retired papermaker. “If Bangor Publishing is there to support us in Madawaska and in the [St. John Valley] with the purchase of the Valley Times, I am pleased.”

In addition to Bangor Daily News, Maine’s most-read news outlet, Bangor Publishing Co. also owns five weekly newspapers: The Star-Herald in Presque Isle, Aroostook Republican and News in Caribou, The Piscataquis Observer in Dover-Foxcroft, the Houlton Pioneer Times, and The Weekly, which covers Greater Bangor.

The company also publishes Bangor Metro, a monthly magazine, and operates PrintWorks, a commercial printing business in Presque Isle.

The acquisition of the St. John Valley Times is testament to Bangor Publishing Co.’s commitment to the Aroostook County community, said Benoit.

“We’re honored to be able to continue the tradition of St. John Valley Times,” he said.

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.