By Renee Burkhart
Long a part of Johnson County culture, The Johnson County Sun newspaper is now only a page in media history. The week of Aug. 15 marks the last week of publication for the home-grown media outlet.
The closing of the Sun is about the bottom line, said Lee Sawyer, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NPG Newspapers, parent company of Sun Publications.
“The closure is based on not being able to get the Sun to a level of profitability,” Sawyer said. “This week will be the last issue.”
The Kansas City Nursing News, another publication generated by NPG Newspapers, and other school-based publications will continue to be published, said Sawyer. He said he is hoping for a new news publication to bring into the Johnson County market in the near future, but the near future may not be soon enough for the many that have relied on the Sun as a means to do business–one of which is the college.
Used as a vehicle to print legal notices, the Sun was only recently named the official newspaper of the college by the Board of Trustees and its abrupt closure leaves department heads scrambling for alternate avenues to publish everything from minutes of meetings to open bid calls for services and goods.
Mitch Borchers, Executive Director of Procurement Services, said his department uses the Sun to advertise a number of bids.
“The closure will not affect items that have been previously published in the Sun and we are looking at other options for publishing future notices now,” Borchers said.
To address the possible delay is services for the college, executive staff met to discuss the next step in replacing the Sun as a publishing venue. Findings were presented at the monthly Board of Trustees meeting held Aug. 18.
Trustees voted to publish all legal notices from this point forward in the Legal Record, a Johnson County weekly publication focusing on public records and public notices. This publication would meet the criteria set forth by Kansas state statute that all school districts and colleges in the state must publish a legal notice in a newspaper that is published weekly at least 50 times per year, among other requirements. The requirement of being published in Kansas leaves the possibility of The Kansas City Star out in the cold as it is published in Kansas City, Mo.
During the course of discussion before the vote, Trustee Jerry Cook said that a secondary publication should be appointed as an alternate to the designated Legal Record to make sure there is a back-up plan in place. Further discussion followed as to which local newspaper meets the criteria ensued, with the subject of a contingency publication set forward to the September Board of Trustees meeting.
Contact Renee Burkhart, special to the Ledger, at email@example.com.
Editor’s note: In the interests of full disclosure, the Ledger notes that Renee Burkhart is a former freeland writer for the Sun.