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“We have no wire service, and we have no national news,” Alldredge said. But the staff “covers all the bases � the board of supervisors, the schools, the water district, the fires that come through every summer.”

There’s even a sheriff’s log, which on a day last month contained items that gave a feel for small-town life. Among them: “4:35 p.m., Copperopolis � Report of black cow in the roadway. Owner advised” and “1:09 p.m., San Andreas � Reported verbal dispute over cake prices.”

Alldredge said if residents want state, national or world news, they can always subscribe to the Sacramento Bee or The New York Times. “But if they want the local news of Calaveras,” he said, “they get it from us.”

One of the big stories recently has been growth, what with more and more people moving in from the Central Valley or the Bay Area all the time. A recent report, Alldredge said, showed that Calaveras County’s population increased 253 percent over the past 30 to 35 years.

“There’s a lot of interest that the growth in Calaveras will be the right kind of growth,” he said. “In places like this, you notice when another 30 acres gets cut and paved over.”

Alldredge’s pet project is the newspaper’s Web site. For a small paper in a relatively remote county, a Web site provides greater exposure to the public than the print edition itself. Alldredge said visits to recently increased by 30,000 to 40,000 a month.

“As an organization,” he said, “we’re reaching a whole new set of readers out there.”

Alldredge wouldn’t discuss how much of his own money he’s put into the Calaveras Enterprise or how much he earns as its publisher. The closest he got was admitting that he and Piccinini made a “substantial investment” in the paper initially and he earns “not nearly as much” as he did when he was billing $575 an hour for K&L Gates.

Alldredge said he bought out Piccinini four years ago and that he and his wife, as sole owners, have begun to turn a profit from the newspaper.

Money wasn’t what convinced Alldredge to step in when Phillips died, though. It was a sheer love of the newspaper industry.

“In addition to the wonderful, colorful kinds of characters, you have that public responsibility of being the free press,” he said. “You’re the one who has to be watching [the powers that be] and keeping them in check.”

Alldredge said he likes to quote Scott Newhall, a now-deceased friend and former executive editor of the San Francisco Chronicle: “It doesn’t matter if they love you or hate you. You just want them thinking about you every day.”