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 Publishing was given a lot of thought and planning.
"The Monett Times has been in our family for a long time, more than 35 years, and I've helped see it through major technology transitions since I came on board at our corporate headquarters 20 years ago," Walls said.
"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," continued Walls. "In this case, we have a good situation where a newspaper can transition from one family-owned newspaper group to another. The Monett Times has been a strong and effective newspaper in this community for a long time, and I'm confident it will continue to be in the future."
Rust Publishing also owns the Cassville Democrat and 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 will serve as office manager.
"I'm excited to begin working with The Monett Times staff and serving the Monett community," said Schlichtman, who will also be serving as executive editor of the Cassville Democrat and coordinating the news content of both publications. "I want to build upon the foundation of community journalism established by The Monett Times, always striving to produce the best news product possible for our readers and our advertisers."
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.
The Monett Times was founded in 1899 by David A. Peters. The Peters family sold the newspaper to Menzo Hainline in 1939, and in 1943, the newspaper changed hands again, this time selling to Ken Meuser, who published the paper until he sold it to Walls Newspapers in 1972.
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.