The TIMES DISPATCH originated in Pocahontas, Ark and later moved to Walnut Ridge.
When Powhatan became county seat in 1869, a local newspaper. The Times, was published regularly and the town also supported two hotels, Rogers House and Morrison House, and general merchandise shops. Powhatan had become the shipping center for much of the county.
THE TIMES DISPATCH
The Times Dispatch was established in Walnut Ridge in 1910, when Dave A. Lindsey moved the newspaper to Walnut Ridge from Pocahontas. Three years later, Walter Smith purchased the paper. Then, in 1921, James L. Bland, native of Bigelow in Perry County, and Austin Wilkerson, editor and publisher of the Newport Independent, bought The Times Dispatch.
Within a short time, the newspaper began a steady climb upward. The following year, Bland bought our Wilkerson's interested in the paper, making him the sole owner of The Times Dispatch. With a loan from the W. 0. Troutt family, owner of The Jonesboro Sun, Bland was enabled to buy new equipment, including a linotype, the first owned by any weekly paper in the state. In those days, the newspaper consisted of four or five handset columns of news per issue, mostly made up of small one paragraph items. In 1946, The Times Dispatch bought a used web-fed newspaper press, the first owned by a weekly in Arkansas
In 1971, The Times Dispatch converted to offset printing. Since the newspaper still had an eight page letterpress, and because of an over-supply of newsprint, the first eight pages were printed in Walnut Ridge and the remaining pages were printed at the Clay County Courier in Coming. In 1977, the paper began being printed at the Paragould Daily Press printing plant. Since 1992, the paper has been printed again in Coring.
James L. Bland Jr. began working with his father at the newspaper office during 1946. In 1951, the younger Bland became editor and later became publisher and general manager. In 1977. the elder Bland was named honorary publisher and Thomas A. Moore was named editor, a position he held until the spring of 1986.
Since 1986, John A. Bland, a third generation of the Bland family, has served as editor, and later publisher, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. James L. Bland Jr. continued to serve as business manager and advisor until his death in 1996
Virginia (Mrs. James L. Bland Jr.) is principal owner of the paper and continues to have a role in its weekly production.
The Times Dispatch has been blessed with a number of faithful, longtime staff members, who have contributed greatly to the newspaper's success. In 1997, staff members with The Times Dispatch for well over 30 years include: Rennan Cooper, Hope Segraves, Howard Golden and Janice Hibbard.
The Times Dispatch has traditionally been conser-vative, Democratic newspaper, with a mission to provide complete news coverage of Lawrence County and to serve as a crusader and primary supporter of Lawrence County and its businesses.
In 1997, The Times Dispatch now has a paid circulation of just under 6,000 and averages approximately 28 to 30 pages each week, along with various inserts. -John Bland.
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