The Vernal Express and Thrifty Shopper have been sold by the Wallis family to Gull Communications, Inc., owner of the Sun Advocate in Price, the Emery County Progress in Castle Dale and the Richfield Reaper in Richfield.
Gull Communications is a subsidiary of Brehm Communications, Inc., a family-owned company headquartered in San Diego, California.
The announcement was made to the papers staff last week. Bill Brehm Jr., President of Brehm Communications, Inc., stated, "We look forward to continuing the tradition of family ownership and good community journalism as practiced by four generations of the Wallis family, as well as maintaining the strong advertising support, which has created shopping values for citizens of Vernal and the Uintah Basin. A good newspaper is very important to every community and its success is dependent on the support it receives from its community in return. We will do our best to produce a quality newspaper for Vernal and the Uintah Basin. We commend the staff of the Vernal Express for their hard work, especially during the difficult time after the death of Steve Wallis on January 30."
Wallis, whose family had run the paper since 1917, was found by his wife, Tami, in their driveway collapsed by his car on that morning. Both Wallis' father and grandfather (James H. Wallis and William B. Wallis) are in the Utah Newspaper Hall of Fame.
"I am pleased to be able to sell to a family with a tradition of community journalism, and would like to thank the community for their support of the Wallis family over the years and the support I have had after the loss of Steve," said Tami Wallis.
Bill Brehm Jr. also announced that the new publisher for the Vernal Express is Kevin Ashby.
"Kevin is an excellent community newspaper publisher and has done a fine job for Brehm Communications, having worked for our company for seven years as a publisher of the twice-weekly Sun Advocate as well as the Emery County Progress. He has been living in Vernal since last fall."
Ashby said he is glad to be back in Utah and working at a community newspaper again.
"I appreciate the opportunity to return to community journalism in Vernal," stated Ashby, who has spent the last five years managing a printing facility for three daily newspapers in Preston, Idaho. "I love the process of putting together quality newspapers and I'm excited to work with the current staff to produce this area's best newspaper. Several times in the past few weeks my path has crossed with the employees of the Express and I have been impressed with their dedication to the paper. I feel we can build on this willingness and excitement for community journalism to continue to produce a newspaper that is wanted in the homes and businesses here."
At the same time Brehm Communications also announced that they have also purchased the Uintah Basin Standard and Uintah Basin Shopper that is located in Roosevelt as well.
The Standard, along with it's web printing facility, has been owned by Craig and Colette Ashby for many years. The Standard is a 7,500-paid weekly with the shopper having a circulation of 16,000. Craig Ashby will stay on as publisher and he happens to be the brother of Kevin Ashby who has taken over as the publisher of the Vernal Express.
Brehm Communications is headquartered in Rancho Bernardo, a suburb of San Diego, Calif. It was established in 1919 in Fort Madison, Iowa, where it still publishes the Fort Madison Daily Democrat.
The company now owns and operates over 50 daily, weekly, semi-weekly and specialty niche products in Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and California under the leadership of now Chairman of the Board William J. Brehm Sr.