Liberty and Long counties’ legal organ cut a ribbon on its remodeled office building Thursday. The Coastal Courier newspaper, established in 1871, celebrated yesterday the long-awaited renovation of its 30-year-old office building on South Main Street in downtown Hinesville.
“We’re really happy to have the renovation — both inside and outside — completed,” Courier publisher Mark Griffin said. “We’re especially proud that even in these tough economic
conditions, we have made a strong financial investment in our building that demonstrates our commitment to Liberty County, our readers and advertisers. Of course, we appreciate the building owners, David and Mary Varnedoe, who were willing to renovate the exterior and really improve the appearance of downtown Hinesville. We want to invite Liberty County citizens to come by and visit with us and take a look around.”
The Courier’s exterior renovations began in October 2009 and were completed in March, said Courier business manager Kathryn Fox. The building’s interior renovations began in April and were completed last month, Fox said.
Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Vicki Davis said the Courier’s renovation was in line with preserving downtown Hinesville’s historic core.
“I applaud the efforts of the Varnedoes and the Coastal Courier in the total rehabilitation of the building, which not only enhances the appearance from the street, it also provides a more functional office and business space,” Davis said. David and Mary Varnedoe own the Courier building through their real estate company, Blue Heron Main Street Properties, she explained.
“The property is a great example of what can be done with older properties as an alternative to demolishing and rebuilding on-site; however, sometimes it is difficult for property owners to grasp the vision of the end product,” Davis said. “David and Mary Varnedoe worked with their design team, the HDDA staff and the Downtown Hinesville’s Design Review Board over a period of several months to develop an appropriate design for the older structure that now is mistaken for a new construction.”
The exterior portion of the project benefitted from the HDDA’s Façade Rehabilitation Grant in the amount of $2,500, she added.
Like the Courier, several downtown businesses and property owners have recently improved their buildings with new signs, awning and paint, Davis said. She pointed to a renovation of the Realty Executive Building completed last year as “the type of successful property improvements that will keep the momentum going, encouraging other property owners to invest in their buildings and land and thus the community.” The Realty Executive Building is owned by William and Susan Strickland, she said.
“I think that the Courier’s renovation is a long time coming and a big investment on the part of the multimedia corporation and the building owners,” said Leah Poole, Liberty County Chamber of Commerce interim director. “It is truly a commitment to maintaining a solid and attractive presence in our community, and especially enlivens and makes our downtown more aesthetically pleasing. I think the Courier is the perfect example of a hometown newspaper and the professional image that they now project really impresses upon our community the places they will go in the future.”
The Courier is owned by Morris Newspaper Corporation, which comes under the umbrella of Morris Multimedia, Inc. Morris Multimedia is considered one of the largest privately held media companies in the United States. The company was founded by Charles H. Morris 30 years ago in Savannah. Morris Multimedia currently owns and operates more than 70 publications, network affiliate television stations and other media-related businesses across the United States and in the Caribbean.
The Coastal Courier newspaper is a tri-weekly; it is published Sunday, Wednesday and Friday with a circulation of 5,000. The newspaper employs 25 full-time workers. Staff includes sales representatives, office personnel, a production department, a circulation department, two full-time reporters, a sports editor, a sports writer, a managing editor, a website editor, a videographer and several news correspondents.
The Courier also publishes the Tri-County Penny Saver, Kidsville News!, Hinesville Area Real Estate Today, Fort Stewart’s newspaper, The Frontline, and The Patriot’s Quality Time magazine. The Courier’s web products include coastalcourier.com, connectstewarthunter.com and goodmorningliberty.com, an online community newsletter.
In addition, the Courier launched its quarterly lifestyle magazine Liberty Life earlier this year. The magazine’s website, libertylifemagazine.com, will make its debut soon.
“We’ve worked long and hard on revamping the design and content in hopes of unveiling all that is quintessential to life in Liberty County,” wrote Liberty Life magazine managing editor Seraine Page in the 2010 winter holiday issue.
Other area newspapers owned by Morris include the Bryan County News in Richmond Hill, the Statesboro Herald in Statesboro and the Effingham Herald in Rincon.