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Calexico Chronicle operations moving to Holtville

March 11, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The Holtville Chronicle?

Calexico business owners and residents are concerned about Calexico Chronicle Publisher Steve Larson's intention to close the Chronicle's Fourth Street office here and move operations to Holtville, where his other weekly newspapers are based.

"How can they call it the Calexico Chronicle?" asked George Woo, a local businessman and a director of the Calexico Chamber of Commerce.

"I think the move is a disservice to the people of Calexico," Woo said.

Larson said Friday he is closing the office at the end of the month to save money. He vowed to continue printing the newspaper — a fixture in Calexico since 1904.

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"The overhead has gotten too expensive so I'm consolidating our operations with the Holtville Tribune," Larson said. "Instead of having two of everything we should be able to cut costs and still put out a good quality product for the community."

Larson bought the paper in August 1999 from Lupe Acuña, a local businesswoman. Larson has made a number of changes in the Chronicle.

"It was not making money when I bought it so we put in newsstands, raised the price to 50 cents, cleaned up the paper and changed the layout," Larson said.

Those are not the only changes Larson has made, according to Hildy Carrillo-Rivera, executive director of the Calexico chamber.

She said since he owns both the Holtville Tribune and the Chronicle, Larson pads the local paper with news from Holtville.

"Not that I have anything against Holtville, but the Chronicle is our paper," she said.

City Councilman Gilbert Grijalva commented on the lack of local coverage by the Chronicle at a recent City Council meeting.

He said the city should pull its advertising because "the Chronicle doesn't cover our events anyways."

Grijalva and Larson squared off recently in connection with an editorial cartoon in an edition of the Chronicle. The cartoon featured a caricature of a Mexican wearing a sombrero and bandolier, which Grijalva says stereotyped Mexicans.

The council will decide next week whether to stop advertising with the Chronicle.

Carrillo-Rivera and others might not be happy about the move, but they said they can understand Larson's position.

"If it needs to be done for economics' sake I support it as long as they continue to service the community," said Yoli Cordero of Garcia Food, and a Calexico chamber director.

At Carrillo-Rivera's direction the chamber has volunteered to help the Chronicle after the move by serving as a de facto office where residents can drop off photos, stories or ads.

The Calexico Chronicle was owned for decades by John Steppling, an Imperial Valley businessman. He sold the Chronicle to Acuña in the 1990s and Acuña sold the paper to Larson's Tribune Publishing Co. a year and a half ago for an undisclosed sum.

Larson said he bought the paper and keeps it alive because he thinks the nation needs a lot of weekly papers.

The Calexico Chronicle staff will be transferred to Holtville.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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