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Bend Bulletin Must Terminate Employees Before Paper's Sale, Documents State

<p>The Bend Bulletin building has been on the market since 2017.</p>

Emily Cureton / OPB 

The Bend Bulletin building has been on the market since 2017.

A new court filing outlining the sale of Central Oregon’s only daily newspaper shows that all employees of the Bend Bulletin and other publications must be terminated before Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers takes control.

The Rhode Island company plans to buy Western Communications’ Central Oregon publications for more than $2 million.

As a part of the sale agreement, Western Communications must terminate all employees at the Bend Bulletin, the Redmond Spokesman Weekly and other publications including Go! Weekly entertainment tabloid and Bend Homes monthly.

"Effective as of the end of business on the day immediately prior to the Closing Date, Seller shall terminate all Business Employees," the filing states.

The Rhode Island company could re-hire any employees at its discretion. 

This comes after Western Communications filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and again this past January. As of late May, Western Communications owed roughly $30 million in debt.

It had listed its Bend headquarters for sale at $20 million in 2017. The Rhode Island company will lease space there for a monthly rate of $10,000.

Neither party is allowed to talk about the terms of the agreement, though documents are publicly available in bankruptcy court.

The Rhode Island company is also bidding on another Western Communications paper, and its real estate, in California — the Sonoran Union Democrat.

Two Oregon-based media groups are buying other Western Communications’ publications. Last week, the court authorized the terms of sale for Country Media and EO Media Group to buy the company’s other Oregon publications in La Grande, Baker City and Brookings and another in Crescent City, California. 

A judge will review the purchase agreement between Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers and Western Communications at a hearing later this month.

Western Communications didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.