By Janene Scully
Noozhawk North County Editor
The Santa Maria Times newspaper and its local sister publications have been sold by their out-of-state owner to a company with ties to Canada.
Lee Enterprises, a publicly held firm based in Davenport, Iowa, has owned the Santa Maria Times since 2005.
The newspaper noted the sale March 13, saying the deal also included the Hanford Sentinel in Kings County and its sibling publications.
The new owner is listed as Santa Maria News Media Inc., a recently formed company that registered with the state in January.
Documents filed with the state list Melanie Walsh as chief executive officer, Roland McBride as secretary and Roland McBride as chief financial officer with an address based in Marion, Ill.
They are affiliated with several other newspapers, many recently acquired, such as The Bakersfield Californian, the Antelope Valley Press and The Porterville Recorder, all of which operate under various names.
For a media company, there appears to be some mystery around the owner, according to stories in the Los Angeles Times and Bakersfield television after the purchase of the once-family-owned newspaper in Bakersfield.
Before being acquired by Lee Enterprises, the Santa Maria Times was part of Pulitzer Publishing Co., which had acquired the smaller Scripps League Newspapers Inc. in the mid-1990s.
Smaller publications that are included in the latest sale are the Lompoc Record, acquired by Pulitzer in 2001, and the Santa Ynez Valley News, acquired by Pulitzer in 2004.
The Hanford newspaper also owns the Selma Enterprise and Kingsburg Recorder, both of which had been acquired in 2000 from Jim Brock, a second-generation member of his family to own and operate the two papers in southern Fresno County.
Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.