Ann Wilson and Rick Morain signed papers Wednesday transferring ownership of the Jefferson Bee & Herald to Herald Publishing of Carroll. Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns
Ann Wilson and Rick Morain signed papers Wednesday transferring ownership of the Jefferson Bee & Herald to Herald Publishing of Carroll. Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns
Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Carroll Daily Times Herald’s parent company, Herald Publishing, has purchased the Jefferson Bee & Herald, a twice-weekly publication with wide circulation and distribution in Greene County.

Principals from both operations officially signed final documents related to the sale Wednesday afternoon in Carroll and Jefferson. The Daily Times Herald started printing the Jefferson newspapers this week. The Jefferson Bee is published on Tuesday and The Herald on Thursday.

The acquisition brings together two longtime Iowa newspaper families, the Wilsons, who have operated The Daily Times Herald and its precursor, The Herald, since 1929, and the Morains, who have overseen the Jefferson newspapers since 1937.

“I’m delighted to turn over ownership and management of the Bee & Herald to the Wilson family,” said Rick Morain, the longtime editor and publisher of the Bee & Herald. “They are recognized statewide and beyond as top-notch journalists and will do the Jefferson newspapers proud.”

Morain added, “There are 35 daily newspapers in the state of Iowa, but only two remain free of group or chain ownership and are locally owned by families: the Cedar Rapids Gazette and The Carroll Daily Times Herald. Jim Wilson and Ann Wilson, and Ann’s sons, Douglas and Tom Burns, know the importance of a good local paper and will certainly provide that here.”

For its part, Herald Publishing plans to preserve the separate identity of the Jefferson Bee & Herald to maintain its brand as a Jefferson product, concerned about the people and happenings of Greene County.

“We’ve known and respected the Morain family, the longtime publishers of the Bee & Herald for generations,” said Ann Wilson, general manager of The Carroll Daily Times Herald. “We share their values, their passion for community, their understanding and love of rural Iowa.”

Herald Publishing has announced that Victoria Riley will continue as editor of the Bee & Herald with Deb Geisler maintaining her position as advertising manager. Rick Morain assumes an emeritus role as an editorial contributor and ambassador to community organizations in Greene County.

(A mission statement for the Bee & Herald under new ownership is published on the editorial page in this week’s Jefferson Herald.)

The Morain family has been involved in ownership and management of the Bee & Herald for 75 years.

Fred Morain, a third-generation Greene County resident, returned from the University of Iowa Law School in 1937 and purchased a minority interest in the company, becoming editor of the Jefferson Herald. He gradually acquired sole ownership by 1953.

His son, Rick Morain, who grew up working for the Jefferson newspapers after school and for some summers, returned following graduate school at Yale University to join his father at the Bee & Herald in 1967. Fred retired as editor and publisher in 1976, and Rick became editor and publisher, the position he held until the sale Wednesday.

On May 1, 1929, James W. Wilson became The Carroll Herald’s business manager and chief of operations. A headline in the paper on Nov. 7, 1929, announced the “Carroll Herald Goes Daily,” and the newspaper adopted the slogan “The Only Daily Newspaper in an Inland Empire of Eight Counties.”

The daily Herald prevailed in a circulation battle with the weekly Carroll Times, and in 1936 the Herald Publishing Co. purchased the Times and the mechanical plants of the two newspapers were combined. They continued as separate publications for some five years before they were combined into The Daily Times Herald. James W. Wilson owned and operated the paper until his death in 1977.

His son, James B. Wilson, joined the newspaper operation in 1967 and became publisher after the death of his father. Ann Wilson, James W. Wilson’s daughter and a former schoolteacher who taught for a time in Jefferson, became general manager of The Carroll Daily Times Herald in 1984.

The third generation of the Wilson family, Ann’s sons Douglas Burns and Thomas Burns, are now involved in the newspaper, Douglas in the news department and Tom in advertising and marketing.

The newspaper has been in business in Carroll for 144 years, and the Wilson family has been involved in its operation for the last 83.