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Eagle Newspapers Inc. announces sale of Willamettte Valley papers

— SALEM — Eagle Newspapers Inc., announced the sale Jan. 8 of six of its weekly newspapers to Oregon Publications Corporation.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The newspapers involved are the Woodburn Independent, Canby Herald, Newberg Graphic, Wilsonville Spokesman, Molalla Pioneer and Madras Pioneer.

Eagle Newspapers is owned by former U.S. Congressman Denny Smith. Oregon Publications Corp., more commonly known as Pamplin Media Group, is owned by businessman and philanthropist Dr. Robert Pamplin Jr.

“This sale is between two great Oregonians, men who share many of the same ideals, including a passion for community journalism and public service,” said Eagle President Tom Lanctot.

Smith has had a lifelong career in printing and publishing, and also served 10 years as a member of Congress. He flew 180 Air Force combat missions in Viet Nam and later was a commercial pilot for Pam American Airlines. He was inducted into the Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor in 2009.

Mark Garber, president of Pamplin’s newspaper division, said the purchase of the five Portland-area community newspapers strengthens the company’s presence in the metro area. Pamplin Media Group also owns the Portland Tribune and 17 other weekly newspapers, including ones in Beaverton, Gresham, Tigard, Oregon City and Lake Oswego.

Eagle Newspapers was founded by former Oregon governor Elmo Smith, who along with friend Bill Robinson purchased the Madras Pioneer in 1948. When Elmo Smith died in 1968, son Denny took the reins of the company, which at that time included weekly newspapers in Madras, Hood River and Dallas.

Under Denny’s leadership, the company grew to 25 holdings in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, including dailies in The Dalles and Sunnyside, Wash. The company also owns four press plants, a mailing service and publishes various other specialty publications and phone books. Denny was inducted into the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association Hall of Fame this past summer. The award recognizes those “who have made an outstanding contribution to Oregon newspaper professionalism through community, regional or state service.”

The Dalles Chronicle, Hood River News and the White Salmon Enterprise will continue to operate under the Eagle Newspapers umbrella.

“Our gorge publications will continue to provide a strong full-service newspaper presence in the Columbia River Gorge,” said Chronicle Publisher Marilyn Roth.


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