Gallup Herald releases last issue, closes its doors

Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

GALLUP , October 11, 2012

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A fter eight years of publishing a weekly paper in Gallup, Joe Kolb on Monday announced on the Gallup Herald's website that he was calling it quits.

"It was with heartfelt sorrow that I am announcing the closure of the Gallup Herald," he said, adding that the Oct. 3 issue was its last issue.

He said that there were a number of reasons for the closure including "costly business mistakes…the economy and the casino hitting the community harder than many want to realize."

He was referring here to the opening of the Fire Rock Navajo Casino three years ago just northeast of Gallup.

The question of just how hard the casino has hit the community has never been studied. A number of restaurant owners have said that they have seen their business decline since the casino opened but couldn't say whether this was directly because of the casino or because of the economic slump that began at about the same time.

But Kolb had been controversial over the years, especially with his decision in 2007 to start his own American Basketball Association team.

When he made the announcement in December 2005 that he was going to create the team, he pledged that it would spotlight Native talent.

"It is only fitting that Gallup's ABA basketball team will be the only predominantly Native American professional sports team in the league with not less than 50 percent of the team comprised of players of Native American heritage complemented with former collegiate, NBA and other professional sports players," he said at the time.

Named the Gallup Talons, Kolb held tryouts around the Navajo Reservation and around other reservations in the western portion of he country and when the team first started playing, a good portion were Native.

But as the season progressed and the drive continued to win games, the Native presence dwindled until there were only two Native players on the team, neither of which were starters by the end.

The team only lasted a year under Kolb.

As for the paper, it was dogged with financial problems almost from the beginning with Kolb being sued by several companies over the years, including the Navajo Times, for non-payment of his printing bills. He was also sued by the state as well for non-payment of taxes.

At one time, he had suits totaling almost $100,000 in unpaid bills in which the courts would later require some of his advertisers to pay his creditors instead of the newspaper.

Over the years, the paper stuck primarily to Gallup news although it would print, on occasion, press releases from the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President.

During the last primary for Navajo Nation president, the paper did print articles about a number of the candidates running for office.

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