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Chamber sells Gazette after 18 months

March 16, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Gazette, a weekly paper started 18 months ago by the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, is being sold to a group of investors in the borough, Chamber Executive Director David G. Sciamanna announced Wednesday.

First published in October 1998, The Gazette is being sold to Res/Com Management, a limited liability company, according to Sciamanna. Financial details of the sale were not released as part of the agreement, and the sale will be finalized in the next 90 days, he said.

"We're taking over immediate management," said Res/Com President Nathan Rotz. "We feel confident we can grow circulation in a reasonable amount of time" and turn a profit, he said.

Randall Rotz, Nathan's father, is the chief financial officer for Res/Com and Shane Snively is the chief operating officer.

Res/Com Management also owns Innernet Inc., an Internet service provider; SitesUnlimited, a commercial Web site development company; and Master Key Properties, a Chambersburg real estate investment firm, according to Nathan Rotz.

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The board of directors of the Chamber voted Wednesday morning to sell the paper, which has a printing run of 5,000 a week, Sciamanna said.

"It was not yet profitable, but all the trend lines ... have been moving in a positive direction," Sciamanna said of the newspaper. Sales of the 50-cent paper were between 3,500 and 4,000 a week, he said.

"We believe these folks have the capabilities, both in business and technology, to take this product to the next level," Sciamanna said about Res/Com.

"We made the decision several months ago to take this course," according to Sciamanna. The Chamber had negotiated with several potential buyers during that time, he said.

Nathan Rotz said the paper fills a niche for longer, more in-depth stories about issues of local interest. He said Res/Com plans no immediate changes and will observe the business before making any decisions.

Editor and Publisher Bill Pukmel will remain in his position, Sciamanna said. "Bill's the key to this transition," he said.

No changes are planned at this time for the other eight full-time and four part-time employees. The editorial staff has four full-time members.

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