County Considers Newspaper Alternative

Saline County Commissioners heard John Lewis, President of the Lewis Publications, offer an alternative to routinely printing public notices in The Salina Journal.  Lewis said he could reduce the cost of what the County pays for printing public notices by half.  Lewis proposed starting a new paper; after it operated for a year, it would become legally eligible to print “public notices”.  Lewis was seeking some kind of assurance among key entities to maintain this arrangement for five years, so Lewis could recoup his initial investment.

This new paper would be similar to the Topeka Metro News, Sedgwick County Post, and Wyandot County Business News–which are all Lewis Publications.  While the paper would contain some local, regional and national news, after a year, it would primarily consists of legal notices.  Individuals and businesses would subscribe to either a printed or electronic version.

Last year, Kansas Representative J. R. Claeys, along with the support of Kansas Senator Tom Arpke, sought alternatives to the cost of publishing public notices.  Last year, City Manager Jason Gage and County Treasurer Jim DuBois testified on behalf of Claeys’ bill that did not move forward.

DuBois said that The Salina Journal charged $1.13 per line to print delinquent tax notices.  With over 8,000 lines in 2015, the cost of printing this one public notice was over $29,000.  It was estimated that between court and other notices, the total cost of county “mandated publications” amounted to over $68,000/year.  Lewis spoke of printing county notices for $0.55/line.  The city, school districts and other boards also generate public notices.

Olaf Frandsen, Editor and Publisher of The Salina Journal offered pointed rebuttal, describing Lewis’ presentation as “smoke and mirrors”.  He spoke to a State requirement that each county designate an official paper.  The Salina Journal has 25,442 subscribers and a free on-line paper.  It pays property taxes, as do its 135 employees.  It is a partner in local community affairs.

Lewis said his publications had a “conservative” orientation.  Commissioner John Price said he wanted to hear from others before making a decision.  Olathe put the process out to bid, but some suggested the Commission could simply just designate which paper would print its mandated publications.


Other Business

Commissioners also:

  • Awarded the low bid of $44,991 to Marshall Motors for Rural Fire Department #7’s to purchase two chassis.
  • Approved purchase of a $4,650 tire machine for Road and Bridge.
  • Approved switching the Health Department’s cell phone contract from Nex-Tech to Verizon.
  • Authorized Emergency Preparedness to get television service.
  • Authorized that large rock be put in an area near State Street and Lightville Road to address a citizen’s concern.

Bernie Botson, Deputy Director of Emergency Management briefed Commissioners on the CERT Program that meets on Monday evenings.  CERT is short for Community Emergency Response Team, a group of citizen volunteers who learn about disaster preparedness.  In some communities, these volunteers can become part of deployable teams to assist with search and rescues or other missions.

Commissioner Monte Shadwick was absent.