By PETER HUSSMANN
Being named an "official county newspaper" is a lucrative designation that means a steady stream of taxpayer paid income to the print business publishing the county's legal notices. That is, unless the matter gets tied up in court.
Such is the case for the Hometown Press in Sully.
At one of the Jasper County Board of Supervisors' first meetings of the year, the Hometown Press broke into the ranks of "official county newspapers" for the first time after submitting circulation numbers that were high enough to push the Jasper County Tribune off the designation list for the coming year. The use of the certified in-county circulation lists were needed to be used to determine the "officials newspapers" after four newspapers sought the three available slots.
At that January meeting, the Newton Daily News submitted circulation figures of 2,840, the Hometown Press at 723, Prairie City News at 523 and Jasper County Tribune at 464.
In late January, however, the Jasper County Tribune filed an appeal against the Jasper County Board of Supervisors' decision to name the Hometown Press as an "official newspaper." In late February, the attorney for the Colfax-based newspaper filed a motion with the court claiming the Hometown Press submitted a fraudulent circulation list to the Board of Supervisors in order to gain the "official newspaper" status.
And that's where the case remains.
Under state law governing the designation of "official newspaper" status, Iowa Code Section 349, when an "official newspaper" designation is appealed, payments by the county to the publisher of the contested paper are not paid until the matter is resolved.
To date, that figure stands at more than $5,000, Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott said.