Times owner acquires Grand Co. papers | AspenTimes.com

Times owner acquires Grand Co. papers

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. ” Colorado Mountain News Media is expanding this week, adding new newspapers, new territory and even moving just a little bit closer to the Continental Divide.

CMNM General Manager Steve Pope announced this week that CMNM has acquired the newspapers of Grand County, including four weeklies ” Granby’s Sky-Hi News, the Winter Park Manifest, Kremmling’s Middle Park Times, the Grand Lake Prospector ” and the Daily Tribune.

CMNM, which is a division Swift Communications of Nevada, also operates such Western Slope newspapers as The Aspen Times and Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Bill Johnson, who has owned the Grand County papers for almost 30 years, said, “It’s difficult to say good-bye, but it’s time to move on. Colorado Mountain News Media will bring in new technology and fresh ideas so the papers can move forward.”

Johnson added, “We’ve been delighted to work with the new owners. I’ve found them to be an organization of savvy people with a lot of integrity and they have great future plans for Grand County.”

CMNM General Manager Steve Pope expressed similar enthusiasm, saying, “These newspapers weave the fabric of Grand County and fit extremely well with our philosophy of publishing very local newspaper. We intend to maintain the local focus and promise to bring them to even higher levels of service in the future.”

Kim Burner, currently general manager of the Bargain Hunter and previously publisher of the weekly Eagle Valley Enterprise, has been named the new publisher for the newspapers.

Burner was born and raised in Carbondale and she said she is eager to get back to community journalism.

“This is an exciting opportunity for CMNM and for the communities these newspapers have served so well. I’m looking forward to building the newspapers and working for the communities,” Burner said.

Burner, who lives in Gypsum, said she and her family will be moving to Grand County as soon as they can find a home.

Patrick Brower, editor and publisher of the Sky-Hi News in Granby, agreed that the change in ownership was a good move.

“Bill and I had been wanting to make some changes in the papers for a while. We realized it was time to let someone else come in and make those changes. We’d seen CMNM take its papers ” particularly in Summit County ” through those same changes already and we knew what they could do.

“CMNM is a really good fit for Grand County. Like it or not, growth is coming. This area is a lot like Summit County was 15 or 20 years ago. CMNM knows how to handle those changes for the good of the community, the newspaper and its advertisers. They know what has to be done and they know how to do it.”

In fact, Brower and Johnson have already guided their newspapers through one wrenching change.

That change was triggered on June 4, 2004, when area resident Marv Heemeyer ” described as “a disgruntled loner with a grudge” ” used a 60-ton, heavily armored bulldozer to demolish the Sky-Hi News building in Granby, along with a dozen other downtown buildings, before killing himself.

Although the Granby building served as the central production facility and printing plant for all the group’s papers, not one single edition was missed.

Johnson and Brower set up short-term emergency headquarters in the tiny Winter Park Manifest office. Brower managed to rescue two vital computers from the wreckage of the Granby building and the papers stayed in business.

Within weeks, they had rescued the press from the demolished building and moved it ” and the rest of their operations ” to a nearby middle school that had been closed and slated for demolition.

They operated from that school for almost a year and then, in May 2005, they moved into their new building, back in the heart of Granby.

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