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It’s hard to believe I’ve been at Consolidated Publishing since May 10, 2006. In that time I’ve served as a reporter at the Jacksonville News and publisher of Jacksonville, The Piedmont Journal and The Cleburne News.

In those 11-plus years I’ve seen many changes. All have been good for the readers and the publications. Now we are about to embark on another change that I know will help the subscribers of The Jacksonville News and The Piedmont Journal.

On April 4, the two newspapers will merge into one weekly.

I’m excited. I think it will be an opportunity to expand our coverage and give our readers more news about northern Calhoun County.

Josephine E. Ayers, chairman of Consolidated Publishing Co., called the move a “straightforward business decision.” Advertising and readership in the two weeklies have declined. Also factoring into the decision was the cost of newsprint, which has increased by more than 10 percent in recent months. Newsprint is the company’s second-largest corporate expense behind labor.

Let me stress, the “new” weekly will cover the same things that have been covered in the two newspapers. In fact, we are hoping to cover more events in the northern Calhoun County area.

The last few years we have already started combining special sections of the two papers, particularly the football edition and the graduation edition.

Financial decisions are hard to make. It was hard for management to decide to pull the plug on two of the state’s strongest weeklies. I believe this merger will now make the new weekly even stronger. At the same time I believe it is important to keep our product at a reasonable price and give readers the best we can.

Don’t worry about your subscription. Readers will still receive a newspaper on every Wednesday. There will be still be news about both Jacksonville and Piedmont city councils, the local sports teams and school news, plus features on people of interest who make up these two wonderful cities.

The two weeklies are not the only newspaper to face changes. The Anniston Star and The Daily Home in Talladega are doing away with their Tuesday editions. The final Tuesday print edition will appear on Feb. 27.