Times Free Press Hikes Charges For Chancery Court Legal Notices; Akers Considering Shift To Herald

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Chattanooga Times Free Press is increasing its charge for public legal notices from Chancery Court by $50 each, Clerk and Master Lee Akers said he was informed.

Since getting the notification, Mr. Akers said he is considering shifting to the Hamilton County Herald, which charges less for printing the notices. 

He said he would confer with Chancellors Frank Brown and Jeff Atherton before making a decision.

The increase, which goes into effect at the end of the week, comes after Walter Hussman Jr.

, owner of the parent firm of the Times Free Press, said advertising revenue was no longer enough to sustain the newspaper that has been printed here since 1869. He said readers would be counted on to pay more to keep the print paper going. 

Mr. Akers said a variety of legal notices from his office are required under current state law to be printed in "a newspaper of general circulation." These include instances in which a lawsuit is filed and one or more of the defendants cannot be found. These have to be run three different times. Another category involves delinquent tax lawsuits. In the probate section of the office, for each probate a notice must be run twice to notify creditors of the estate.

The probate notices are going up from $75 to $125 each. The other notices are increasing from $50 to $100 each.

Mr. Akers said he contacted the management of the Herald and they came to his office to discuss getting the business.

He said, "The Herald has come a long way. It's a nice paper. But I've never seen one. I haven't used it in the past because I didn't feel like it was reaching enough people."

Mr. Akers said he had been aware that the Herald "qualifies as a newspaper of general circulation."

He also said he does not know the circulation figures for the Times Free Press and does not know what all is counted in its numbers.

County Clerk Bill Knowles last year stopped printing county government meeting notices in the Times Free Press and switched to the Herald. "We have saved a ton of money," an official in the office said.  

Clerk and Master Akers said Herald management advised him that the newspaper is mailed to 3,500 subscribers and it is sold in 50 boxes spaced throughout the county.

He said, "Our goal is to try to get notification to as many people as possible. We have to make sure that due process is followed. We have to make sure all reasonable efforts are made to contact people."

He stated of the Times Free Press increase, "It sounds to me like they are saying 'We don't want your business.' But maybe it's reasonable that we pay the extra money. What's fifty bucks?"

Mr. Akers said the charges do not go against the taxpayers, but are covered by the parties involved in lawsuits, tax sales or probates.  

Both the Times Free Press and the Hamilton County Herald have Arkansas owners.


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