The weeklies sold include the Tracy Press (San Joaquin County), Scotts Valley Banner-Press (Santa Cruz County), and Patterson Irrigator (Stanislaus County). The papers were sold to Ralph Alldredge, owner/publisher of the Calaveras Enterprise in San Andreas, and Will Fleet, publisher of The Fresno Bee. Fleet announced his departure from The Fresno Bee on Oct. 23 to run the day-to-day operations. Alldredge and Fleet will be co-publishers/owners of the group.
“Ralph and I are excited about our new venture,” Fleet said. “Tracy is a wonderful community, and we look forward to carrying on the Matthews family tradition of community journalism and public service.”
The change of ownership of these weeklies culminates an 18-month process to find a buyer for these papers, which were marketed by JP Media Partners, Inc., the court-appointed broker in the sale. It appeared the group had initially been sold in March of this year to H. Lee Wilcox of San Angelo, Texas, who bid $1.25 million in a court auction. After winning the public auction, Wilcox signed a purchase agreement but was unable to complete the transaction.
Fleet and Alldredge purchased these papers (excluding press equipment) mostly on terms. Alldredge cast the only bid when the company was auctioned in federal bankruptcy court in Sacramento.
The Tracy Press, founded in 1898, has been owned by the Matthews family for nearly 70 years. The paper was purchased by the late Harvey F. Matthews in 1943. One of the eldest family owners, Sam Matthews, will stay on with the new owners as publisher emeritus of these publications.
“After three generations of our family having published the Tracy Press, beginning in 1943, sale of the assets of Tracy Press Inc. is a major milestone for us and our community as well. We are confident that Ralph Alldredge and Will Fleet will continue the tradition of community journalism that has been established for nearly seven decades,” Sam Matthews said. “Ralph and Will are experienced newspaper publishers who are well respected in the field. We are pleased they have become the new owners of the Press and its sister publications, and I personally am looking forward to working with them.”
For more information, contact Jeffrey Potts at JP Media Partners, Inc. at 916-673-9779.