A new chapter for a community newspaper

Today I am getting ready to write a new chapter in my life, and in the ongoing journey of a community newspaper. Your newspaper.

I’ve spent five-plus decades working for community newspapers in locations from the East Coast to the West Coast; plus a few places outside the U.S.

The presses quit running in my journalistic world several years ago; but my career continued when I looked around and realized my beloved Franklin County was smack dab in the middle of a news desert.

I decided to do something about it and entered the brave new frontier of electronic journalism. So was born my late-in-life baby, Franklin County Free Press. We were immediately embraced by a community hungry for a return to local journalism, for a one-stop place where they could learn what was going on in their communities.

In the past three years, FCFP has grown from a fledgling newcomer to a solid enterprise attracting well over a million page views a year.

Now, for several reasons, it is time for me to step down as publisher and editor and turn those roles over to someone else.

FCFP’s new chapter

On January 1, 2022, Nathan J. Neil, MBA, PMP and his firm, Neil Publishing will assume ownership and control of Franklin County Free Press. He also owns Solinkit and LaunchUX.

Neil is a local entrepreneur who operates several successful Chambersburg businesses. He shares my passion for both the community and local journalism.

Upon hearing the news of my upcoming retirement Neil, an advertiser and friend of the publication, stepped up to the plate. A longtime supporter of local journalism, he saw the need for this publication to continue as a resource for the community.

Neil has established a reputation of putting great management in place to operate businesses that he starts or acquires.

“We live in an incredible community with infinite potential,” he said. “The role local journalism plays is critical for bringing the community together.  Keeping this publication live and thriving is very important.”

We are confident that under his leadership, this publication will continue to grow, and thrive,

We are excited for this new chapter and hope you are too.  Many positive changes are already in planning. An editorial and leadership team is being assembled to take over on Jan. 1, and announcements will be made shortly.

As for me, I plan to slow down, take care of family matters, and spend time enjoying my great-grandchildren.

But I won’t fade completely into the sunset. I will be available to assist Nathan with the transition, if he needs it. Perhaps you might even see my byline occasionally on a feature story or editorial. 

My life, my story

It was 1967 when my husband David and I moved from Colorado to Pennsylvania with our five oldest children. We were excited about turning the page on a new chapter in our lives.

It was a big adventure for our family as we made our way across the country in a station wagon and U-Haul truck, seeing places we had only heard of and only dreamed of someday visiting. We got off the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Carlisle and headed down Rt, 11 toward our destination: Chambersburg. David was working for Raytheon Service Company. His assignment: Raytheon’s liaison at Letterkenny Army Depot.

We drove down Main Street, past Falling Spring Presbyterian Church and Corpus Christi Catholic Churches and marveled at the architectural splendor. I was a product of Southwest Texas and New Mexico, so this was outside my experience.

But that day I felt I had finally found home. Later I learned when researching family history that some of my distant ancestors had put down roots in tiny Scotland PA a couple of centuries earlier. Others were from Adams County and Monocacy, Md.

I embraced the community, and it would eventually embrace me. It wasn’t long before I went to work for Public Opinion, training in its newsroom on North Third Street; and then opening its Scotland bureau in our Greene Township home. My husband’s job eventually took him all over the U.S., and the world, but we always ended up back in Franklin County. I would go back to work at Public Opinion every time.

Today most of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live in this area. It’s our home.

Meet FCFP publisher Nathan Neil

New chapter
Nathan Neil with his wife Cierra, two sons Carter (5) and Grayson (2)

Nathan Neil is not new to the Franklin County Free Press. He and his web firm, LaunchUX, have been working behind the scenes for about a year with website support, hosting and development. Now he is ready to open a new chapter in his business adventures. He is excited.

He is an author, in addition to receiving honors for both his business accomplishments and research. Neil has received a Forty Under 40 award, was a Finalist in the Executive Management Awards, and recently was a runner-up in the Cumberland Valley Business Alliance’s Young Professional Awards as Entrepreneur of the Year.

Nathan has been a lifelong resident of Franklin County. Born in Chambersburg, PA to Tony and Tina Neil of Willow Hill, PA. He graduated from Fannett-Metal High School before achieving a BSBA from Shippensburg University and then continued to complete his MBA this fall. He began his journey as an IT Consultant at Solinkit in 2011. A few years later, he co-invented a new mobile technology that he and his co-founders secured two patents. He continued his education in project management and was certified as a Project Management Professional, by the Project Management Institute. A little over four years ago, he founded LaunchUX, website development and SEO firm that provides services to businesses all across the nation.

He and his family are residents of Chambersburg.

As Franklin County Free Press’s new owner, he will take over as the newspaper’s publisher Jan. 1. He can be reached by emailing nathan@fcfreepress.com.


Kimberly Ann Zimmerman 1960~2023

Kim was always a very outgoing person who loved the outdoors and spending time at her campsite she enjoyed life to the fullest and had an overabundance of friends.

Linda K Ditzler obituary 1953~2023

Linda was a counselor at TruNorth Counseling Services. She also was employed at Wilderness Lodge Leather’s & Hat Shop and The Horse You Rode In On.

John J Durkan obituary 1939~2023

Born in Brooklyn, New York on July 3, 1939, John will be remembered as a man of great faith, unwavering integrity and endless generosity.