At their height, the free monthly Chronicle newspapers were mailed to 250,000 homes in Fairfax County and had good, longer local stories you couldn’t find anywhere else. No more.

On Friday, publisher F. Lowell Curtis informed the staff that he was shutting down immediately.

The Chronicle launched in the Lorton area in 2001, Curtis said Monday, and grew to five separate editions covering much of the county. By this year, it had dropped to three editions and shaky financials, which Curtis points out other local papers are also suffering. (No kidding.)

“I over expanded the company a few years ago,” Curtis explained in a letter to his staff, “and in spite of selling my home last fall and paying down a substantial amount of debt, as a result of the continuing debt service we are still losing money. If this spring we had a minor improvement in the economy we could have survived, but that just has not happened and in fact we are slightly behind last year at this time.”

The South County Chronicle was mailed to more than 20,000 homes in the Clifton, Fairfax Station, Lorton and south Springfield areas, and might be the only edition to continue under different ownership, Curtis said. The Chronicle went to 20,000 homes in the Burke and Springfield area. The Fairfax Chronicle went to 20,000 homes in the Fairfax City area.

“It’s sad to see it go,” Curtis said.