A prominent group of retired Canadian journalists keen to serve their community in the Almonte area have banded together for a new hyper-local online news venture.

The Millstone, which bills itself as "an intelligent and informed news source" for residents in Almonte, Pakenham, Mississippi Mills and Carleton Place, is the brainchild of the Almonte Press Club.

The public journalism project, available at www.millstonenews.com, carries no ads and is run by a volunteer staff. The website will be edited by Val Sears, who has been often referred to as one of the most important political journalists of his day, having written for the Canadian Press, the Toronto Telegram and the Toronto Star.

Sears was drawn out of retirement to help with the launch, saying he missed the work.

"You can't write all your life, as many of us have, without missing it," he said. "And people coming up to you and saying, 'That was a great story. It's great for the ego to have this!'"

Training high-school students

The Almonte Press Club includes other former, national producers and editors. The goal of the Millstone is to provide a venue for public journalism and give readers stories they can't find anywhere else.

Bruce Kingsley, who spent his career at CBC and is also part of the Millstone's editorial board, said he hoped the news website would become known as a valuable public service.

"It's an opportunity for the community to submit material, read material, participate in the newspaper if you wish, and it becomes a community exchange of information," Kingsley said.

Staff at the Millstone are also welcoming contributions from youth, and hope to train local high-school students and encourage them to submit work to the paper.