J. Louis Mullen Acquires The Lennox (SD) Independent and Tea (SD) WeeklyBack to News

J. Louis Mullen has acquired The Lennox Independent and Tea Weekly in southeastern South Dakota from Independent Publishing, LLC. The group also publishes community guides for Tea, Lennox, and nearby Worthing, and provides printing and design services for local businesses. The two weekly newspapers both circulate in Lincoln County, one of the fastest growing counties in the state.

Dirks, Van Essen & April, a media merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented Independent Publishing in the transaction. Terms were not disclosed.

Debbie and Verlyn Schmidt purchased The Lennox Independent in 1997 from then owner Kris Van Zee. Prior to Van Zee, the Lennox Independent was owned and operated by the Verlyn Hofer family for 64 years. The Schmidt’s daughter, Kelli Bultena, bought into the family business in 2010, the same year they started their second newspaper, Tea Weekly. The Tea paper was recently named “Best of the Dakotas” during the SDNA/NDNA convention in its circulation category.

“We are excited to turn over our newspapers to someone who is as committed to community journalism as we are,” said Debbie Schmidt.

“We’re confident that Louie Mullen and Josh Byers will bring the experience and enthusiasm needed to keep The Lennox Independent and Tea Weekly flourishing,” added Kelli Bultena.

Louie Mullen, part of a second-generation newspaper family, now owns more than 30 newspapers in seven states, stretching from the upper Midwest to the West Coast. He has acquired nearly a dozen titles during the last two years. Mullen also sits on the board of the National Newspaper Association.

“As a kid from Sioux City, I’m grateful and honored that Kelli and Debbie have put their trust in me to run these newspapers so close to my home and family,” Louie Mullen said. “Weekly newspapers are a much needed part of the identity and community of our American landscape. I’m happy to keep this newspaper independent and vibrant, a reflection of this community.”