In 1998, the couple retired from the weekly newspaper and printing business in Hammond and moved to Port Wing permanently and continued to cover area history and items of interest to their readers. The name of the paper was changed to The Connection as its coverage area did not just include towns on the south shore of Lake Superior, but also south, along Highway 2, including Iron River, Brule, Maple and Poplar. The paper remained a free publication, printed monthly, as retirement was more important than the supplemental income received from the paper, but keeping busy was also important to the couple.
Following Robert’s subsequent illness and death, the Gardners’ second daughter, Jeanne, decided to take on the challenge of the paper in March, 2006. The newspaper business was not new to her, as she had worked for her parents for over 20 years as Managing Editor of the Central St. Croix news.
There was one large difference between the elder Gardners and Jeanne, however. She was the single mother of a college age daughter, so changes would need to be made if the newspaper could become a financially sound endeavor, as she needed it to be. Jeanne decided to start printing twice a month, almost immediately, in hopes of providing a more timely product for advertisers in the area. In 2007, changes, adhering to postal regulations to become a periodical publication (newspaper) instead of a free advertiser, were undertaken. This meant Ms. Gardner would need to open an office in the town in which she planned to mail her product, and readers would be required to pay for the paper, whether they had it sent to them by United States mail or picked up an issue at the store.