August 13, 2020
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Newspaper spring-ups through the years

By: Irene Hilsendager
July 5, 2019

This article was encouraged by a comment that I have been hearing for several years. Having heard it quite frequently in the past month, I will try to dispel the myth. “I remember when the Community Voice newspaper and the Clarion merged.” The two newspapers have never merged.

Let us do some back history. Cotati is the older of the two cities so therefore it would have more newspaper publishing than Rohnert Park. Cotati probably was a hamlet and Rohnert Park was just a dream when newspapers carried local ads and news of the community. 

Having searched museums, dusty rooms, libraries and minds of some senior members of Cotati and Rohnert Park; dates vary for two different or maybe the same with different names and dates were found. 

I saw copies of newspapers that were so brown, so brittle that photos or touching were not allowed. One was the front page of the Petaluma Weekly Journal and Sonoma County Advertiser from Aug. of 1855. There was also a glimpse of a front page of the Argus-Courier dating back to Feb. 12, 1861 to 1865. 

There was a copy of a local weekly newspaper called the Cotatian which was established by a E. A. Little in 1944 and lasted until 1964. 

Lloyd and Pru Draper were editors and publishers of the Cotatian since 1951 but was sold in 1964 to KVAN, Inc., a Washington corporation, headed by Sheldon F. Sackett, a well-known publisher. Sackett purchased a news press and would place it centrally in Santa Rosa, but he indicated the Cotatian composition work would continue in Cotati where a three-year renewable lease had been completed with the Draper’s; owners of the building where the Cotatian was located.

In 1969 a newspaper called the Rohnert Park and Cotati World was started but only lasted a year. There also was a Rohnert Park Press and Central Sonoma News in the early seventies. If recollections are just, it probably was started by Rohnert Park founder, Paul Golis.

Information has it the Clarion was started in 1970 but closed in 1972. I don’t believe proper information was given on this as I know it was started in 1969 as the Rohnert Park Cotati Clarion. Again, another source gives it as the Central County Clarion lasted from 1969 to 1970.

The Morning Glory was publishing from 1975 to 1977. Again, some information stated the Sonoma State Morning Star was from 1974 to 1975. The Rohnert Park-Cotati Times existed from 1977 to 1982. 

I think what most of us remember is the Rohnert Park Cotati Clarion located on Southwest Blvd. and then moved to Professional Center Dr. in Rohnert Park.

The Rohnert Park Cotati Clarion was purchased by Scripps League Newspapers Inc. on Aug. 10, 1978. Former Clarion owners were Dean Dunnicliff and Lyle Amlin. the Scripps chain of newspapers also owned the Petaluma Argus, the Napa Register and the Novato Advance. Amlin remained in his post as publisher until Bill Haigwood took over. 

The RP-Cotati Clarion was closed in Dec. of 1992. All employees were shuffled to the Argus-Courier in Petaluma. Some stayed, and others went on and furthered their careers.

In Feb. of 1993, Yatin Shah and the publishers of the Sonoma Index Tribune, Bill and Jim Lynch and their father, Robert Lynch took a big chance when they decided to start up a new newspaper to replace the Rohnert Park-Cotati Clarion. The Community Voice took hold and even for a while became a twice a week paper.

In 2000 a decision was made to leave the Rohnert Park facilities and move to Sonoma. The majority of employees went in other directions but two were retained by the Sonoma Index Tribune. The papers were then delivered by mail.

In 2003 the Voice came back to Rohnert Park with a shoe string staff of Jud Snyder, Irene Hilsendager and a sales person and home delivering was again started.

Yatin Shah, the present publisher purchased the paper from the Lynches and moved the office to Penngrove. After three years a decision was made to move back to Rohnert Park at 100 Professional Center Dr., the paper’s present location. Other small newspapers also started up in the meantime. A conservative paper came out of Cotati and the Tri-City Times/North Bay Times was a start-up in 2008 but due to illness closed in 2011.

A community newspaper is a necessity as it is a place to announce meetings, club activities, major events, positive news and even major crimes. It also gives people living within the community an opportunity to communicate with each other.

The Community Voice is a subsidiary of the Shah Family LLC., a family owned and operated business in Rohnert Park.