The Neighborhood Gazette, a weekly, family-run newspaper that servedthe Crofton-Gambrills area for more than four years, shut down last week, leaving 12 staff members out of work.

The closing comes justtwo months after former Baltimore County Executive Theodore Venetoulis bought the Bowie Register, laid off the entire news staff and shifted the format from weekly to bimonthly.

The Crofton area is now covered regularly by two newspapers, the Crofton Crier, published weekly by Capital-Gazette Newspapers, and The Anne Arundel County Sun, published six days a week by The BaltimoreSun.

"We are a victim of the economic times," said Stan Felder, the publisher/editor of the Gazette, which was circulated free to about 30,000 homes. "It is pretty tough out there."

Felder, a former editor of the Prince George's Journal and reporter and editor for the former Washington Star, said he started the tabloid-sized Gazette to give something back to the community. The paper was first published as a shopper in December 1987.

"It is something that I always wanted to do," Felder said. "It is the dream of many newspaper people to be involved in a community and be able to help a community by supplying good, concise, clear and accurate information. . . . it was an opportunity to do it my way."

Felder said he chose Crofton to start a newspaper because it had "tons of opportunities" due to residential and commercial growth. Felder's wife, Betty, took photographs and handled the books. His son, Mark, was assistant publisher and his other son, Gary, served as production manager.

Megan McGrath, a reporter for the Gazette who covered Crofton, started working at the paper in May 1990 after graduating from the journalism school at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Now she is looking for another job.

"I'm sorry things turned out the way they did," she said. "It was a wonderfulexperience. (Felder) called everyone together and told us. A lot of people were real attached to the paper."

Felder wouldn't say how much money the paper was losing or what the salaries of his staff members were. The paper had two reporters, one news photographer, one sports editor and four advertising sales people.

"Of all the stories we did," Felder said, "my favorites were ones that might not have been told by larger more cosmopolitan or city-oriented newspapers."

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