Rust Communications, the Cape Girardeau-based media company that owns the Cassville Democrat, has acquired The Monett Times and the Monett Shopper from Cleveland Newspapers, Inc. The change in ownership was announced on March 2.
Lee Walls, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Walls Newspapers, the parent company of CNI, said the decision to sell The Times to Rust Communications was given a lot of thought and planning.
"The decision for a newspaper owner to sell one of its properties is never an easy one, but sometimes the time is right for such a move," Walls said. "In this case, we have a good situation where a newspaper can transition from one family-owned newspaper group to another."
In additon to the Cassville Democrat, Rust Communications owns 49 other newspapers, including the Carroll County (Ark.) News, the Lovely County (Ark.) Citizen and the Holiday Island (Ark.) News as well as its flagship newspaper, the Southeast Missourian.
"We really look forward to providing a quality newspaper to the community of Monett and surrounding areas," said Bob Moore, publisher of the Cassville Democrat and Carroll County News who will now also be serving as publisher of The Monett Times. "Rust newspapers have a reputation of providing strong local news coverage and serving advertisers professionally."
Lisa Schlichtman, editor of the Cassville Democrat, has been named editor of The Times. Murray Bishoff will remain as managing editor, and Lisa Craft, the former Times editor and publisher, will serve as office manager.
"I'm excited to begin working with The Monett Times staff and serving the Monett community in the same tradition we have established at the Cassville Democrat," said Schlichtman. "I want to continue to strive to produce the best news products possible for both our readers and our advertisers."
Schlichtman will serve as executive editor of the Cassville Democrat and will coordinate the news content of both the Monett Times and the Cassville Democrat. Lindsay Reed has been promoted from assistant editor to editor of the Cassville Democrat.
"I'm very excited about this new opportunity. I love Barry County and take my role in the community very seriously," said Reed. "I hope local residents will continue to feel comfortable bringing news items and story ideas to the Cassville Democrat.
"I've learned a lot from Lisa over the last four years, and I'm happy that she will continue to be available for support and advice in her new executive position," Reed added.
Rust Communications is a family-operated company that was founded in 1967 by Gary Rust, who remains as chairman of the company's board of directors. Gary's sons, Jon K. Rust and Rex D. Rust serve as co-presidents of the company. Wally Lage is chief operating officer of the company.
Rust Communications is one of the fastest growing private newspaper groups in the country with full or part ownership of 19 dailies, 30 weeklies and 17 radio stations in eight states.
Rust Communications purchased the Cassville Democrat on April 1, 2004, from Lisa and Mike Schlichtman, who retain a minority ownership in the weekly publication. The Schlichtmans will also hold a minority ownership in The Monett Times.