The Hartwell Sun, along with other newspapers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina, is part of Community Newspapers, Inc., headquartered in Athens, Ga. Founded by N.J. Babb, the company is now owned by President W. H. “Dink” NeSmith, Jr. and Chairman Tom Wood.
CNI is a dynamic company, expanding through acquisitions (eleven since 1996) as well as the growth of existing properties. Three new press plants have opened since 1999.
CNI newspapers have consistently won in excess of one hundred state press association awards each year over the past several years. Our associates are committed to quality journalism, and to serving our communities by providing accurate, aggressive coverage.
To our advertisers, CNI and CNI affiliates offer the opportunity to reach more than 176,000 households. Our average market penetration is 65%. Several boast in excess of 80% household reach in the primary markets they serve.
Readers are invited to browse through CNI’s web site at www.cninewspapers.com.
The Hartwell Sun has chronicled the progress of Hartwell and Hart County for 139 years.
August 16, 1876: The first issue of The Sun rolled off a Washington hand press into the hands of editor John Magill. He was a South Carolinian who signed up with the army of the Confederacy at age 13. He served The Sun for 34 years.
May 1879: With E.B. Benson, owner and Magill, editor and publisher, The Sun, became The Hartwell Sun.
Feb. 25, 1880: Editorial protesting increased import duty on printing paper and materials - “The government might as well impose a tariff on the meat and bread that sustains life as to continue a duty on the newspapers that are the grand civilizing and enlightening influences of the present day... In fact a general and widespread diffusion of knowledge among the people of this country is the surest safeguard of prosperity and liberty itself.”
January 1896: After several changes of ownership John Magill and his cousin James Magill acquired The Hartwell Sun. Cousin James contributed a graphic element to the utilitarian format of The Hartwell Sun.
In 1909, just a year before John Magill’s retirement, the Magills sold The Hartwell Sun to their cousin Leon Morris. He was joined shortly after by his teenaged brother, Louis.
In 1913, they built a state of the art newspaper plant on Depot Street in Hartwell in which they housed a new linotype. The Hartwell Sun had moved out of the age of handset type.
Feb 27, 1925: An achievement in The Hartwell Sun’s history was the National Publicity Edition. The six section, 64 page edition, the Morrises said, “fills a long felt want in this community, a concrete means of telling the facts of its business, its commerce, its social and professional life, its schools, churches, industries and its climate, wealth, advantages of all kinds.” That purpose became the mission of Louis Morris.
After Leon Morris’s death in 1926, his brother took up the standard with a renewed vigor despite the economic storm clouds which presaged the Great Depression.
In addition to owning The Hartwell Sun, Louis Morris began radio station WKLY, was president of the Hartwell Railway Company, a member of the Hartwell City Council and on the staffs of Governors Arnall and Russell. He was president of the Georgia Press Association and co-chairman of the Georgia Press Institute. He contributed unceasing efforts toward acquiring the Hartwell Dam but that project was as yet unrealized when, on May 10, 1955, Louis Morris died.
May 13, 1955: “With The Hartwell Sun as his banner for the cause, Louie Morris was nothing if he was not a modern version of the crusader of old. That his publication has long been known as the greatest asset to Hart County boosters and to organizations that promote community and state welfare is common knowledge.”
Succeeding Morris as editor was his son-in-law Max Pfaender whose lot it was to deal with the early resistance to integration with the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown vs the Board of Education.
Pfaender took a stand for The Hartwell Sun. “The Hartwell Sun is going to say what it thinks.. If you can’t see it our way, it doesn’t mean we are enemies. It simply means we don’t agree,” he wrote.
August 1962: Neil S. ‘Buddy’ Hayden became editor of The Hartwell Sun. He wrote, “The Hartwell Sun will express an editorial opinion on the editorial page, and only on this page... We will speak out on issues knowing full well that agreement by all our readers is impossible... We will strive for perfection - for the best weekly newspaper in the United States.”
Under Hayden, the news content of the paper changed. For the first time, he began coverage of the Hart County Board of Finance although this met with resistance. The board regarded him then as a trouble maker but in time accepted his presence, never doubting that they would be exposed for wrong doing.
June 1968: Bill Bridges became editor of The Hartwell Sun and two years later the paper completed the transition from letterpress (hot type) to offset (cold type).
Nov. 1979: Morris Communications Corp. of Augusta purchased The Hartwell Sun from Bill Bridges and partners.
Dec. 1980: On Bridges resignation: “During the past decade The Hartwell Sun has earned numerous state and national awards, the highest being the national first place in General Excellence presented by the National Newspaper Association. Among Mr. Bridges’ personal awards is the national first place Freedom of Information award in 1975.”
Dec. 10, 1981: Steve Carswell was named general manager of The Hartwell Sun. Wassie Vickery continued as associate editor, becoming editor in 1994.
From 1994 to the present, ownership of The Hartwell Sun changed from Southern Publications of Jonesboro to Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., of Birmingham, Alabama and in 1999 to Community Newspapers, Inc., of Athens.
Robert Rider became the first publisher under CNI ownership and was regional publisher of the Lake Hartwell Region, composed of The Hartwell Sun, The Toccoa Record, The Elberton Star, The Franklin County Citizen and The News Leader. Rider retired Aug. 2015
Wassie Vickery resigned as editor in 2000. Scooter MacMillan was named editor from 2000 to 2001.
Judy Salter, previous editor, came on board in March of 2002. She previously was editor of The Madisonian, in Madison.
John Brazier previous editor.
Mark Hynds was named editor in 2011 to present.
Peggy Vickery was named publisher in December 2015 and served in the role until the end of 2018, when she retired.
Michael Hall took over as publisher and editor in January 2019.