J. Ira Gore, owner of a newspaper, "The Florida State Journal," a city clerk, and mayor of Cedar Keys, Florida became the first editor of a newpaper in Palmetto in 1893. Gore was the first city clerk of Palmetto also. He later moved to St. Petersburg and became the editor of the St. Petersburg Times. He died September 7, 1900 of Brights disease. Gore named the paper in Palmetto "The Palmetto News."
Gore was followed by R.L. Bob Durant, who also served the town of Palmetto as Chief of Police and Mayor. Durant later became a Baptist preacher and moved away. He later returned to Palmetto, lived and died here.
Francis A. Walpole purchased the Palmetto News in 1896-1897. He also served as mayor of Palmetto. Prior to coming to Palmetto, Walpole served as editor of the Tampa Herald. A few years later he became the editor of the Manatee Record at Manatee.
Asa Lamb purchased the Palmetto News and was the largest stockholder. Lamb published the news until the paper was sold to J.W. Bell. Mr. Lamb was for many years the vice president of the Manatee County State Bank of Palmetto. He also served as chairman of the city council. The State Bank of Palmetto was the first bank in Manatee in Manatee County.
J.W. Bell purchased and published the Palmetto News until he sold it to Frank Cappleman and A.M.C. Russell in 1908.
Cappleman and Russell grew up in Brooksville, Florida. They were chums during their school days. Mr. Russell came to Palmetto first and took charge with Cappleman following a few weeks later. The newspaper was located over Dr. D.I. Jones drug store on what is now Old Main Street. The newspaper consisted of a Washington Hand Press. The press could only print two pages of six columns each. Struggling along together for three years until the fall of 1911, Mr. Russell bought out Cappleman's interest.
About that time the city of Palmetto voted bonds for street paving and sewers which brought in a small boom locally. The Palmetto News moved to a bulding which was located on 4th St. and adjacent to and just west of the J.C. Courtney home, owned by J.J. Haley, one of the town pioneers.
In 1923 W.G. Sparkman and Mr. Russell established a weekly newspaper calling it the Manatee Advertiser. Sparkman was the editor and Russell was the publisher.
In 1926 Mr. Russell sold his interest in the Manatee Advertiser to Sparkman and leased the Palmetto News to three employees. Rhion McGee, Raymong Hamilton and Alfred Moore. During this time Mr. Russell started a daily news called the Midnight Sun. Russell got the title from the novel "The Land of the Midnight Sun." He reasoned that the most important news broke by midnight so he printed at that hour. He printed and had it ready by daylight. Russell changed the Midnight Sun to an afternoon paper because of labor and printing problems. The daily news was closed and the weekly Palmetto News continued. Russell owned the Palmetto News for 37 years durng which he leased it twice.
In 1952 the Palmetto News was sold to Michael R. Masters and Oscar E. Brewer. Floyd Boone was publisher. At that time Kyle McCrown was editor.
In 1958 Warren Porter was the publisher and Rock C. Payne Sr. was the editor.
In later years the Palmetto News became the Palmetto Press and eventually was named the North River News.
The North River News was owned by Ken Burton, Sr. until 1996 when the employees became the owners of the newspaper. There were five partners -- Sid Thomas, Al Johnston, Elmer Fugate, Betty Pratt and Barbara Nielsen. Al Johnston and Betty Pratt have since died and Elmer Fugate sold his shares back to the paper. Current owners of the paper are Sid Thomas, Barbara Nielsen, and the family of Betty Pratt.
Copyright North River News Inc.