Back issues of three weekly newspapers that operated in eastern Coweta County from 1995-2003 were recently donated to the Senoia Area Historical Society’s museum.
Recently, Bill and Randy Todd and Tray Baggarly delivered back issues of The Coweta Journal, The Senoia Home News and The East Coweta Journal to the SAHS History Center and presented them to Museum Director Maureen Schuyler, according to a press release by Baggarly.
“We are excited to take possession of these newspapers as they represent and document the years in the Senoia area from 1995-2003,” said Schuyler in the release. “They will be an invaluable resource for our museum.”
In 1995, Bill Todd had a vision for a weekly newspaper to cover eastern Coweta County including the municipalities of Senoia, Sharpsburg, Turin and Haralson. He enlisted the help of Baggarly, who had worked in community newspapers in the area since the early 1980s, and the two of them, along with Bill’s brother Randy, started Community Press Inc.
On Nov. 30, 1995, the first issue of The Coweta Journal rolled off the press. The Todd and Baggarly families have been in Senoia since the early days of the town, according to the release.
The first office for the paper was located in downtown Sharpsburg, across the street from the post office, in a former home owned by Herb Bridges. Baggarly was the manager of the day-to-day operations and editor; Nancy Hand was the office manager; Sally Hope was the advertising sales manager; and part-time reporters/photographers covered the news including Judy Ethridge, Jack Merrick and others. Randy Todd handled IT and equipment, and Bill Todd helped with daily operations and distribution.
In 1997, the operation was moved to downtown Senoia on Broad Street in a small office next to the current post office. It stayed there until the new post office was completed and the newspaper office moved up the street to the building where the old post office had been for decades.
The paper prospered on Main Street, and in 1999, the newspaper was sold to Millard Grimes, owner of Grimes Publications in Athens. Grimes also owned several weekly papers in Meriwether and Harris counties in addition to others around the state and had at one time owned The Fayette County News.
Seeking to brand the paper as a Senoia publication, Grimes renamed it The Senoia Home News, and on July 22, 1999, the first issue with the new name hit the stands, according to the release.
The final issue of TSHN was published Jan. 31, 2002, when Grimes sold the paper to Bob Tribble, of Trib Publications in Manchester. Trib owned The Fayette Daily News and Today in Peachtree City at the time so he bundled advertising for all three covering Fayette and Coweta counties.
Again, new ownership brought about a name change. This time it became The East Coweta Journal, and the office remained in downtown Senoia with Baggarly as the managing editor. The first issue of the East Coweta Journal was published on Feb. 7, 2002.
On the morning of Jan. 9, 2003, news broke that the building which housed the Fayette Newspapers offices in Fayetteville was fully engulfed in flames and was a total loss, including more than 100 years of back issues of the papers published there. The operation was moved to the Senoia office where it stayed until a new office was located in Fayetteville.
The paper continued to be published by Fayette Newspapers Inc. but was discontinued around 2015, according to the release.
“We are happy to be able to give these papers to the historical society so that the public can have access to them,” said Baggarly in the release. “Many, many hours were put into getting the papers out each week, and it took a lot of great people working together to make it all happen.”