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ST. MATTHEWS -- A family-owned weekly newspaper in St. Matthews is changing hands and getting a new name.

The Calhoun Times, located at 1632 Bridge St., announced this week that ownership of the paper will be assumed by the Wagener-based weekly, The Aiken Leader, and become The Calhoun Times Leader.

The transition will be seamless and the newspaper does not expect to miss a publication date, Calhoun Times Publisher Edwin C. "Ed" Morris Jr. said.

Morris Jr. will remain as publisher of The Times Leader and his father, Edwin Craddock Morris Sr., 87, will serve as a freelance writer.

The exact date of the name change is still uncertain, but Morris Jr. said the newspaper will still publish on Thursdays and be located in the same building.

"I feel like I need some new blood to help me with new ideas, and we will make some major changes and modernize a little bit," Morris Jr. said. "I am happy the county will have a paper as many people were upset about and offered to help us as well."

Andrew O'Byrne Sr., owner and publisher of the Aiken Leader, will become the owner of The Calhoun Times Leader.

"A newspaper is important to the health of a community, and we are happy that we will be able to keep a paper in Calhoun County," O'Byrne said. "A local newspaper facilitates dialogue between local government and the citizens, and we are committed to bringing the community the news it has relied on for so many years from The Calhoun Times."

"I look forward to getting to know the community in the coming months," he added.

Under the new ownership, the newspaper will be printed in Wagener rather than in Lexington.

The Aiken Leader, a free weekly newspaper, is a member of the South Carolina Press Association and has a circulation of 8,000. The newspaper is distributed on Fridays.

Morris Sr. is optimistic that O'Byrne will continue the tradition of The Calhoun Times.

"Hopefully, it will continue as it has in the past," Morris Sr. said. "We have had to make changes and everything, but we will try to keep it the same as much as possible."

Although newspapers are having to adjust to changing times, he said he hopes newspapers will continue to play an important role into the future.

"They are historic," Morris Sr. said, noting newspapers provide the public with a record of events as well as photos of days gone by.

The Calhoun Times had initially announced its plans to end publication on Feb. 2 before O'Bryne expressed an interest in continuing the paper.

The Calhoun Times traces its roots to 1893 when it began as The St. Matthews Recorder.

After several ownership and name changes, John Bunyan Morris Sr. purchased the paper in October 1929. That was a month before his son, Craddock, was born. He operated the paper until his retirement in 1956.

A 1950 graduate of The Citadel, Morris Sr. served as an officer in the U.S. Army in Japan and returned to the states in 1953. He joined his father's business at the age of 23.

It was not the first time he had been exposed to the newspaper business. Morris Sr. took journalism courses at the University of South Carolina before going into the service.

"I worked with him (his father) when I was young," Morris Sr. reflected. "They called you a printer's devil. Back then you had metal line type, and I would run proofs and everything."

He said when he first started in the newspaper business, the presses were Linotype machines using a "hot metal" process which cast metal type in one-line units called slugs. Those were then compiled and mounted into a press.

"Everything was set by hand," Morris Sr. said. "You had metal forms you put on the press and you had a folding machine and you ran the paper through the folding press."

Now all that has been replaced with phototypesetting, offset lithography printing and computer typesetting, he said.

Despite the technological changes, the weekly newspaper's format has not changed significantly, Morris Sr. said.

The Calhoun Times has kept its family tradition over the years. In 1996, Morris Jr., Craddock's son, became the third generation to publish the newspaper.

Today, the paper has a circulation of about 1,400 and covers predominatly Calhoun County, although does report some Elloree area news, Morris Sr. said.

"We have tried to serve the public with good news and trying to keep the public informed on everything by trying to cover all the activities, schools, organizations and clubs," he said.

Over the years, he said he has covered countless stories and met some famous people, most notably the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond.

He said the biggest story he remembers covering was the 50th anniversary celebration of Calhoun County.

"That was a big section," he said.

Morris Sr. said the aspect he has enjoyed the most about being a journalist for 64 years is the relationships. Despite being in his late 80s, he continues to write his notes on a pad and takes his own photographs.

"I have enjoyed reporting on things in the county, but have enjoyed the people of the county," he said.

When asked if there is one thing he has not enjoyed, Morris Sr. couldn't come up with anything.

"I just enjoyed it all," he said.

While Morris Sr. will continue working in the newspaper business, an appreciation reception honoring him will be held this Sunday afternoon at the Tri-County Electric Cooperative Social Room in St. Matthews.

Beyond the newspaper business, Morris Sr. has made community involvement a big part of his life. He is the charter member of the Calhoun County Rotary Club, a member of the Calhoun County American Legion and a charter member of a St. Matthews dance club.

In fact, this past Christmas, Morris Sr. was selected to serve as the grand marshal of the St. Matthews Christmas Parade.

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Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD

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