Havre Daily News
Pioneer Newspapers is ending its 31-year affiliation with the Havre Daily News and is selling the paper to three Wyoming couples.
Pioneer Newspapers president David Lord made the surprise announcement Monday to the staff and introduced new owners Robb Hicks, Gary Stevenson and Tom Mullen.
The new owners are set to take over the first of the year.
“The Havre Daily News is a great newspaper and we feel fortunate to have this opportunity,” Stevenson said. “Havre, Hill County and the Hi-Line are home to good people and we're going to do out best to continue to provide them with a daily newspaper that reflects their community.”
Lord said Seattle-based Pioneer had no intention of giving up ownership of the paper, but when publisher Harvey Brock resigned in November to take another job, the company was “scratching heads as to a replacement.” It was then that Pioneer was approached by Hicks, Stevenson and Mullen about acquiring the paper, Lord said.
Lord had met the three when Pioneer bought the West Yellowstone News from them.
The timing of the offer was “more happenstance than design,” Stevenson said.
They declined to discuss the terms and conditions of the sale.
Mullen, who is operations manager for the group, said he doesn't believe there will be immediate or significant changes in the look or content of the paper.
Every community has a different character and the paper will reflect that, Hicks said.
The position of publisher remains unfilled.
The 4,200-circulation Havre Daily News will be the big dog among the newspapers owned by the partners, Stevenson said. The Sun-Telegraph in Sidney, Neb., is their only other daily newspaper. It has a circulation of about 2,500.
The partners own about a dozen newspapers, both as a group and individually, including three in Montana: the Glasgow Courier, the Silver State Post in Deer Lodge and Philipsburg Mail.
“Our introduction to the Hi-Line came a few years ago then we purchased the Glasgow Courier,” Hicks said. “We love the Hi-Line, and we're all excited to become a part of the Havre community.”
Stevenson said the area reminds him of Sheridan, Wyo., where he and his wife, Sue, live. He is in charge of the financial side of the papers and his wife, takes care of the bookkeeping. Stevenson started in the newspaper industry about 15 years ago as an advertising sales representative.
Hicks, who is in charge of marketing and promotions, said he is a third-generation newspaperman. He lives with his wife, Jen, in Buffalo, Wyo.
Mullen and his wife, Annie, live in Sheridan. He said the three families have been in business together for about 10 years.
Pioneer Newspapers Inc. is a private, family-owned publishing business formed in 1974 by Jim Scripps. The Havre Daily News was purchased by Scripps in 1963 before Pioneer was formed.
Pioneer owns the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and seven other daily newspapers in the West and Northwest, as well as a number of weekly papers.