116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union have purchased four weekly newspapers — in Belle Plaine, Marengo and Williamsburg and in Poweshiek County.
The papers were purchased from McLean, Va.-based chain Gannett Co. and begin with today’s editions.
Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.
The titles, the oldest of which dates to 1856, include the Belle Plaine Star Press Union, Marengo Pioneer Republican, Williamsburg Journal Tribune and the Poweshiek County Chronicle Republican.
The papers serve portions of Iowa, Benton, Poweshiek and Keokuk counties.
“We are honored to be the new care takers of this historically strong publications, the papers that so many people grew up with and looked forward to reading each week. Equally important, we are excited to be a part of these strong communities," Southeast Iowa Union Publisher Matt Bryant, who will manage the papers, said in a statement.
The papers, which are delivered to subscribers by mail, will be published on Wednesday. Increased local content, including sports, is planned, he said.
The paper also will seek to better support the area business community through advertising and other tools, he said.
Managing Editor Melinda Wichmann, who has been with the papers for 34 years, will continue to produce the papers under the new ownership.
A stronger digital presence will be established in coming months, Bryant said.
Gannett will issue subscribers refunds for amounts paid beyond the July 27 issue, but the new ownership will continue current subscriptions until a new subscriber package can be put in place.
The Southeast Iowa Union is a part of an employee-owned organization Folience, also the parent company of The Gazette in Cedar Rapids.
The Gazette — which will handle some business processes for the newly acquired papers — purchased the Washington Evening Journal, Fairfield Ledger and Mount Pleasant News in 2016, and started the Union in 2019. The company added the Clarion Plainsman in Packwood earlier this year.
Gannett, which publishes hundreds of titles in 46 states including USA Today and Des Moines Register, has been selling off small community papers in recent months. The company sold the Indianola Record-Herald in June to former longtime employees.