In Fall 2013, Justin Kiel, a junior at LaCrosse High School, began submitting pictures for The Regional News. Not long after, he began writing articles to accompany these pictures. In February 2014, while sitting at the kitchen table, he learned that The Regional News and Westville Indicator had been put up for sale and would be discontinued if a buyer wasn’t found in two weeks.
He looked up from the bleak for sale notice and told his mom, Kelly Kiel, “We should buy the papers.” Initially rebuffing the idea, Kelly soon decided that owning a newspaper was something they could do and that would make for an interesting experience. And so on Friday, March 14, 2014, The Regional News and Westville Indicator transitioned to its new owners, Kelly Kiel and her son Justin Kiel. The two quickly got to work learning how to run a weekly newspaper.
The papers were redesigned, a Facebook page was created, and advertising prices were adjusted all in the first week. They recruited students to write articles about the happenings in their school and locals to share what was happening in their communities. Since day one they have taken the approach that the best story teller is the one who lived through it.
Their hard work paid off and the newspaper took off. Within one year their circulation had grown 500% and in store sales were 11 times higher. Not long later, in June 2015, Justin convinced Kelly that they buy the old LaCrosse Library building next door to their house. Prior to being used as a library, the building was, believe it or not, the office of The Regional News.
Today, readership is up almost 2600% from the beginning of their ownership and the business is outpacing every other newspaper in their coverage area. As these small town newspapers keep growing, they intend to continue to promote and publish the local community news, allowing each of the respective communities the opportunity to share what is important and valued within their communities.
As publisher and co-owner of The Regional News and Westville Indicator, Justin designs 20 broadsheet pages each week while also managing the logistical end of delivering the papers. He specializes in design, photography, USPS compliance, and circulation management. In addition, he takes on the occasional investigative article and spends plenty of time thinking about business strategy.
When he isn’t working on the newspapers, Justin can be found working on improving his community. Appointed to public office at age 18 years and 10 days, he became the youngest public official in state history and is now the President of the LaCrosse Town Council. He serves as Vice President of the LaPorte County Solid Waste District’s CAC Board, acts as LaCrosse’s representative to the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, sits on Leadership LaPorte County’s Board of Directors, and is an active member of the LaCrosse Lions Club.
Justin is also working towards an Associates of Organizational Leadership at Purdue University Northwest. He firmly believes sleep is for the weak.
As editor and co-owner of The Regional News and Westville Indicator, Kelly edits all of the content that goes into both newspapers. A real grammar guru, she checks most content for errors at least four times to ensure perfection. She specializes in editing, coordinating writers, and social media management. In addition, she frequently writes short articles on community happenings and spends plenty of time recruiting people to contribute pictures and articles.
When she isn’t working on the newspapers, Kelly can be found working at the LaCrosse Town Hall where she is Clerk-Treasurer. Appointed to the position in 2012, she was reelected in 2015 and is known for her focus on keeping the public informed. As an active member of the LaCrosse Lions Club she has been instrumental in starting up a local Leos Club to encourage high school students to volunteer in their communities.
Kelly also works as a clerk at the LaCrosse Public Library and is a single mom raising three sons. She wishes she had more time to sleep.