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James D. Nowlan
Stark County Communications
Toulon, IL

101 West Main St.
Toulon, IL 61483
Work: 309-286-4444

Photo Linked From: http://www.countyenews.com/nowlan/images/portrait.jpg

Rural Illinois community website started 2000 / weekly started 2002


Countyenews.com was founded August 17th, 2000 by owner Jim Nowlan and now Stark County Communications manager Denny Rewerts. Since its beginnings, countyenews.com has grown tremendously and now has approximately 100,000 viewers yearly.

countyenews.com is the only source for late-breaking news, weather and sports for the Stark County area. The site has undergone many changes in both layout and looks, with its most recent one debuting March 26th, 2005. Some of the new features include archives and a "Be Heard!" section. In the latter, you can post your thoughts and opinions about issues in the news. Look for the "Be Heard!" icon in The Stark County News and then come to countyenews.com.

The ease with which online weeklies may be started was described by Jim Nowlan, a 20-year veteran of state politics who returned to his rural western Illinois hometown and started the weekly Stark County News in 2002 with $700 computers, a single page scanner and a couple of good digital cameras. With those resources, a small staff and the ability to send pages via the Internet to a distant (chain-owned) daily for printing, Nowlan says he was in business, and giving nearby chain-owned weeklies fresh headaches.

By 2005, much of Nowlan's efforts were online.

Now, said Nowlan, he will soon use off-the-shelf software to send digital versions of full editions to subscribers in Florida and elsewhere, via the Internet. And the work to put those editions together is being done by high-school students, via his website called http://www.countyenews.com/. "It is easier than you think to start a newspaper," said Nowlan.

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