First and foremost, Andrew Mirrington loves Moab.

Publisher of the Moab Sun News, Mirrington jokes that starting a newspaper was the only way he could persuade his wife to move to the desert.

In reality, starting a free newspaper in Moab is an idea Mirrington has had for years. About six months ago, he and his wife, Meredith, began piecing that plan together.

Thursday, April 19, the Moab Sun News hit newsstands with its first issue.

“Our goal is to provide a unique and modern newspaper in print and online to both locals and visitors,” Mirrington said. “We believe a newspaper can be both a community watchdog and a community booster. We feel there are a great many stories that have yet to be told – and we look forward to telling them.”

The Sun News will publish weekly and will be available throughout the Moab area. The initial circulation will be about 3,000 copies. Subscriptions by first-class mail are available.

Readers will find coverage of city, county and school district news, sports and outdoors features, arts and entertainment news, cops and courts coverage, opinion pages, columnists, news from around the region and country, a calendar of events and more. The paper can be found online at www.moabsunnews.com.

The Sun News office is at 30 S. 100 East, across from the Sheriff’s Department.

The Mirringtons moved from Telluride, Colo., where Andrew still works several days each month at the Telluride Daily Planet.

He came to manage that newspaper, for owner Randy Miller, in 2008 after nearly 10 years working at newspapers in Boulder, Colo.

The Daily Planet this year and last won a record number of awards from the Colorado Press Association. Under Mirrington’s leadership, the newspaper grew for four consecutive years, expanding readership and content.

The editor of the Moab Sun News is Veronica Daehn Harvey. She moved with her husband, Kyle, and two children from Omaha, Neb., where she worked as a reporter and editor at the Omaha World-Herald, the state’s largest newspaper, for six years. Before that, she worked as a reporter at the Grand Junction Free Press.

Long-time local Sallie Hodges is the Sun News’ advertising account manager. The newspaper is still looking to hire other Moab area residents for sales, freelance writing, column writing and administrative work.

Mirrington first started visiting Moab in the late 1980s, and he and his wife were married here next to the Colorado River in 2008.

“I came for the mountain biking,” he said, “and instantly became entranced with this beautiful place.”

Since then, Mirrington said, he has watched Moab’s economic development, particularly with tourism. He is optimistic about Moab’s future.  

“This is a community blessed with staggering natural beauty and a great mix of long-time residents as well as newer transplants. Moab also has an especially rich concentration of locally-owned businesses and a diverse group of visitors who are very passionate about Moab. I relish the idea of trying to reflect and cover these various constituencies.”

Some have wondered about the prospects for a new newspaper at a time when the industry as a whole is sluggish.

“In recent years, newspapers in big cities have struggled against numerous online alternatives for news and information.” Mirrington said. “But remote, tourism-reliant towns like Moab do not face these same challenges and remain fertile ground for a free newspaper.”

Many in town have expressed support for the upstart media company. “I have been particularly moved by the several dozen local businesses that have taken the leap-of-faith to come onboard with us as advertisers from the outset,” Mirrington said.

Suzan Martin, publisher of The Moab Star and founder of the Moab Senior Games, is enthusiastic about the Sun News.

“I’m looking forward to this new take on what’s happening in Moab,” she said. “I like to see all different points of view and am excited to have something new to read. Moab continues to grow and evolve in so many ways – what a great time for this new publication to surface.”

Laurie Collins, director of the Moab Arts and Recreation Center, said the Sun News is raising Moab’s “cool factor.”

“Moab has always been a community with differing viewpoints and multiple opinions,” Collins said. “Those qualities continue to improve our remote town as we learn to work together. I like the idea of that quality reflected in our newspapers as well.”

Ken Davey, the City of Moab’s economic development specialist, said, “The more information we have about local issues, the better decisions we can make as a community.”

For more information, contact the Moab Sun News at 259-6261 or publisher@moabsunnews.com. E-mail story ideas to editor@moabsunnews.com