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The Slatonite, 5 other papers sold to Wesner, Wood

A chapter of the Texas newspaper industry that began more than five decades ago has come to a close.

But a new chapter for The Slatonite is now beginning.

The Slatonite and five other community newspapers in the area have been sold by Roberts Publishing Co. to Scott Wesner and Scott Wood.

Readers, advertisers and the overall community, however, should see little change as a result of the transaction.

The Slatonite remains in business, with the same name and the same staff serving the people of Slaton and the surrounding area.

“It is an honor and a privilege to continue publishing the famous Roberts group into the future,” Wesner said.  “My business partner, Scott Wood, and I look forward to working with the people of this community to make a better future for our children and our community.

Newspapers involved in the sale are the Andrews County News, Brownfield News, Lamesa Press-Reporter, Seminole Sentinel, The Slatonite and The Snyder News.

The sale marks the end of an era for Andrews-based Roberts Publishing Company, which has owned and operated newspapers in communities scattered across Texas and into New Mexico more than half a century.

The company’s roots go back to 1934 when Charles Roberts Sr. established the Andrews County News.    Roberts Publishing Co. was formed in 1960 by Charles Roberts Jr. and his son, James Roberts.

The expansion of Roberts Publishing began in 1968 with the establishment of the Lamesa Press-Reporter and South Plains Printing, and the purchase of the Brownfield News and Seminole Sentinel.

Over the years the Roberts group of newspapers expanded to include publications in Azle, Electra, Hereford, Gatesville, Granbury, Littlefield, Levelland, Vernon, Springtown, Lovington, N.M., and various other locations.

With each purchase, a new corporation was created with Roberts Publishing as the majority owner and the local publisher as one of the investors.

Ten of the group’s publishers have served as president of the Texas Press Association and one as president of the National Newspaper Association    James Roberts was one of four initial inductees in the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2007.   Two other publishers in the Roberts group joined the Hall of Fame during the following two years.

James’ son, Randall, has served as president of Roberts Publishing Co. for almost two decades but handed off the day-to-day operations of the company to his own son, Blake Roberts, a few years ago.

Having sold off various newspapers in the group over the years, both Randall and Blake said the decision to sell the remaining operations was a difficult one.

“I’ve grown up in the newspaper business and thought it always would be part of my life,” Blake said.

But with other business activities taking more and more of their time, they believe the sale will help ensure each of the newspapers can continue serving their communities for years to come.

“This move, I think, will be a win-win for everybody, especially for the people who depend on their local newspaper to deliver the news and information no one else can provide,” Randall Roberts said.

He believes the new owners can provide the resources to help each newspaper grow and serve their readers.

Wood got his start in the newspaper industry in 1997 in Crane.  He has four children: Camron, a former member of WWE who resides in Orlando; Caleigh and her family, who live in Midland and are active in the oil and gas industry; Emma, a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma who works in the business operations of the family’s north Texas newspapers; and Sarah, a freshman in high school.

Wesner has been involved in the publishing business for more than 25 years.  He has two children who are both in college: Hanna, a junior, and William, a freshman.

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