Dirks, Van Essen & Murray Engaged to Sell Harris Enterprises Inc.

Hutchinson-based Harris Enterprises Inc. has engaged Dirks, Van Essen and Murray to sell its six newspaper operations in Kansas and Iowa.

The primary publications are the 27,000-circulation Hutchinson (Kan.) News, the 25,500-circulation Salina (Kan.) Journal, the 15,500-circulation Burlington (Iowa) Hawk Eye, the 8,000-circulation Hays (Kan.) Daily News, the 7,000-circulation Garden City (Kan.) Telegram and the 4,000-circulation Ottawa (Kan.) Herald.

“The families reached this decision reluctantly,” Bruce Buchanan, president of Harris Enterprises said. “They are proud of what these newspapers have accomplished, and have taken great pride in making their communities better.” Buchanan said the owners hope to sell all six newspapers as a group, but recognize that it might be necessary to deal with multiple buyers.

Harris family involvement in the newspaper business started when Ralph Harris purchased the Ottawa Herald in 1907. Ownership now includes the third and fourth generations of the family.

Ralph Harris and his two sons, John P. and Sidney, extended their newspaper ownership with the purchase of the Chanute Tribune in 1927. In 1933, John and Sid added the Hutchinson News. The Burlington Hawk Eye was purchased in 1941 and the Salina  Journal in 1949. The Garden City  Telegram joined the group in 1953, the Olathe (Kan.) Daily News in 1959, the Hays Daily News in 1970, and the Parsons (Kan.) Sun in 1982. Olathe was sold in 1998, and Chanute and Parsons were sold in 2008. Several other newspapers and many radio stations have been bought and sold over the years.

Descendants of John P. and Sidney Harris remain as the primary stockholders. An employee stock ownership plan also owns a portion of the company, along with four other minority stockholders.

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