I have witnessed my share of Courier-Gazette history and been a part of it as well. This past week another chapter in that book was recorded.

Dan Dunkle is leaving the paper(s) to work for Maine Health in the same office as my good friend Art Durity. As I continue my Courier-Gazette timeline, which goes back to 1846, I see Dan’s time here as unique from any of his predecessors.

Dan started out as a cub reporter in 1998, in a newsroom with Steve Betts, Michael McGuire, Ken Waltz, Tom Von Malder, David Grima, Joe Cyr, Rosie Matson, Judy Lindahl, Leanne Robicheau and Sharon Starr. Dan started back then at the ground floor. His outgoing personality made it easy for him to meet people and get their stories. He was good at it because he really liked it.

I got to the Courier about nine years before he did. As a young reporter he witnessed my Superman slide across the top of a conference room table, resulting in the table’s total destruction but no injuries. We worked together for 16 years give or take. I moved on in 2005 to the FREE PRESS. We always kept in touch.

I was renewed at the FREE PRESS. As for Dan, he would experience a wild ride. In the run up to 2008, a new paper joined the Courier-Gazette and FREE PRESS in our bathtub-sized local market. It was VillageSoup. This new paper was very aggressive, hiring Courier talent away. By 2008 The Courier-Gazette, along with The Camden Herald and Republican Journal, were purchased outright by VillageSoup. The remaining Courier employees had to interview if they wanted a job.

Not only that, but also their papers went away. The Courier-Gazette and Camden Herald (started in 1846 and 1869 respectively) were discontinued. Both were replaced with a single publication called the Herald Gazette. It was downhill from there.

On an unusually warm Friday night in March, 2012, Dan and his wife Christine returned from seeing a movie in Augusta sometime after 5 p.m. A voicemail left on their phone tipped them off that VillageSoup had announced it was to cease operations, leaving them both unemployed. Over that weekend Reade Brower met with the bank, and by the following Monday he had acquired the assets of VillageSoup.

The Courier-Gazette and Camden Herald would be restored.

From there, Reade formed a small group to begin an organic process that would bring back the papers:

Dan and Christine Dunkle; editorial.

Dave Libby; sales.

Ken Waltz; sports.

Brian Gess was later brought in to be the new publisher as well as I.T. person.

The newspapers and the VillageSoup websites today were built on the foundation laid by Dan and his team. There were many long nights. After missing only two issues, the papers were back.

In November of 2019 Dan and I joined forces once again when the FREE PRESS and Courier papers all moved to a shared office in Camden on Virginia Avenue.

Dan leaves the trade as an Executive Editor who skillfully fostered three paid newspapers every week. The Courier-Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal. He has done it with passion, and a calm way under the pressure of looming deadlines.

Way to go Dan!

Glenn Billington is a lifelong resident of Rockland and has worked for The Courier-Gazette and The Free Press since 1989.

Dan Dunkle

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