DCI's 136-year tradition continues under new owner

Two generations of Sunderlands and Wicks celebrate the sale of the DCI to Wick Communications.

The Sunderland family announces the sale of the Delta County Independent to Wick Communications, a family-owned community media company with newspapers, websites, magazines and specialty publications in 11 states.

The sale, which was finalized April 30, includes the building at 401 Meeker Street in Delta. The newspaper broker firm of Dirks, Van Essen, Murray & April facilitated the transaction.

The DCI is owned by Leader Publishing Company, which was established by Norman and Gladys Sunderland when they purchased The Limon Leader in 1972. Their three children, Randy, Roxanne and Ron were all involved in the operation of the newspaper as they were growing up.

Randy and his wife Pat, who met at Limon High School, left the small eastern plains community to attend college. In 1980 they returned to Limon to join the family firm.

As they gained experience in the operation, Norman and Gladys began looking for opportunities elsewhere. They found what they wanted in 1984 in Paonia -- a community newspaper surrounded by the mountains. Ron made the move to Paonia with his parents, and Roxanne joined the staff in 1985.

Despite a period of declining sales in Delta County, The North Fork Times grew in circulation and in advertising sales. The Sunderlands' strong commitment to the community caught the attention of Delta business owners who wished the Delta County Independent would reflect a more positive image of the community.

At that time, the DCI was owned by Cox Enterprises, the only weekly newspaper in the huge communications empire.

With support from the business community, negotiations for the purchase of the DCI were completed on Oct. 31, 1987, and for a short time, the Sunderlands were the owners of three newspapers.

Eventually, the decision was made to consolidate production of the Delta County Independent and the North Fork Times, and the commercial office supply store in Paonia was closed. A new owner was found for The Limon Leader, although the process was delayed by the June 1990 tornado that devastated much of downtown Limon, including the newspaper building.

The six members of the Sunderland family maintained active roles in the publication of the newspaper until 1998, when Norman and Gladys retired.

With the sale of the DCI, Pat and Randy will retire after a short transition period. They will remain in Delta, but will have more freedom to travel and spend time with their two sons and their families.

Ron and Roxanne will remain with the newspaper. All current DCI employees have been offered jobs.

Wick Communication publishes newspapers in Arizona, Alaska, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington. It also owns the Montrose Press.

Francis Wick, president, CEO and a third generation Wick family member, said, "We're honored to have been chosen by the entire Sunderland family to continue this great tradition of journalistic service to the community.

"The Delta County Independent and surrounding communities served have a strong independent spirit and voice which the newspaper will continue to support and foster. Ultimately, a newspaper is only as strong as the community fabric and desire to grow together rather than apart.

"Wick is very fortunate to have an accomplished leader in Dennis Anderson, whose ties to the community allows him to immediately engage with neighbors and businesses alike. We look forward to reader engagement, input and support along the way."

Anderson is a Delta High School graduate who has been with Wick Communications for 15 years. He will serve as a group publisher for several newspapers, including the Delta County Independent and the Montrose Press.

"To have the opportunity to be the publisher of my hometown community newspaper is an incredible honor," said Anderson. "My ties to the community run deep. The DCI has always been a part of my life and is how I have stayed informed about Delta County over the years.

"Randy, Pat and the entire team have created and maintained one of the best community newspapers in the state. We will work hard to continue the same level of journalism and community involvement."

"Newspapers may be considered a dying breed, but the Delta County Independent remains a valued community asset," said Pat Sunderland. "Continued support from our readers and our advertisers, the ongoing dedication of our longtime employees, and the exciting addition of the Wick network of resources, will ensure the DCI remains a respected, trusted voice for Delta County."

Ron added, "We have always approached our work in the community newspaper industry with a team concept. This community has been a crucial part of that team. It welcomed us with open arms when we arrived in 1987 and has never left us. We thank each and every one from subscribers to advertisers to news sources. You have all contributed to our success and longevity in this industry. We have always felt this newspaper was as much your newspaper as it was ours.

"We have had numerous employees over the decades and each played an enormous part in our team. Our thanks go out to all of them. Three of those employees have been with us since day one and deserve a special recognition -- Diane Webster, Randy Crespin and Sandy Conner. We have been together through the good and bad of 30-plus years and we appreciate that you stuck with us through it all."

Advertising director Roxanne McCormick expressed her appreciation to the advertisers who have supported the DCI the past 30-plus years. "I would also to my advertising sales staff for their dedication. I look forward to continuing to manage this terrific sales team under the new ownership of the Wick family."

"The DCI is a grand community newspaper with a rich 137-year heritage, and the Sunderlands have been blessed to have played a role in its success for more than 30 years," said Randy Sundelrand. "I am excited about the next chapter for the paper and how Wick Communication -- with the its own family tradition and expanded resources -- will shape the paper to be successful in today's changing media environment.

"I began my career as a paper carrier 50 years ago. It is appropriate I should close it out delivering the paper to the post office this morning."


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