Meet SNI

CEO and President

  • Lissa-Vahldieklg

    Lissa Walls Vahldiek,
    CEO

    Lissa Walls Vahldiek, CEO, has been in the newspaper business since 1980. She began her career as a reporter for the Rosenberg (Texas) Herald Coaster owned by Hartman Newspapers, Inc. and became COO of SNI in 1985. She was elected CEO in March 2014. She serves on the boards of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation, Mutual Insurance Company, PAGE and Trinity University. She was born in Guntersville, Alabama and moved to the Houston, Texas area with her family in 1973. She is a 1980 graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. Vahldiek lives in Houston, TX with her husband, Paul R. Vahldiek, Jr.

  • Dolph Tillotson,
    President

    Dolph Tillotson, president, has been in the newspaper business since 1969. He began his career in news, and he has served as general manager, publisher and president for two community newspaper companies – Southern and Boone Newspapers, Inc.

    He is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and a 1972 graduate of the University of Alabama.

    Tillotson lives in Galveston, Texas, with his wife, Teri. He came to work for Southern in 1987 as publisher of The Galveston County Daily News. He was named president of SNI in March 2014.

Publishers

  • Brandon Cox,
    Publisher

    Brandon Cox, publisher of the Bay City Tribune, is an interesting combination — an artist at heart who is also driven to help shape the future of media. Born and raised in Owensboro, Kentucky, Brandon and his family are thrilled to be in Texas.

    Brandon studied Graphic Design at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, KY and began his newspaper career designing advertising and pages. From there he moved on to managing graphics production, becoming an advertising director, and now publisher. Brandon is also an accomplished musician. Brandon and his wife Kayla have two young children. Alyssa is three, and Marshall is one year old.

  • Janie Gray,
    Publisher

    Janie Gray, publisher of The Baytown Sun has been in the newspaper business since 1976. Her career began in classified advertising, and she has served as publisher, ad director and circulation manager at over six newspapers, The Baytown Sun, The Angleton Times, The Houston Chronicle, The Fort Payne Times Journal, The Paris News and The Liberty Vindicator. She grew up in Baytown, Texas and attended Lee College and Southwest Texas State University. Gray lives in Dayton, Texas with her husband Bill. Gray has worked for Southern Newspapers over 30 years.

  • Guy Aguirre,
    Publisher

    Mario "Guy" Aguirre started working for the Del Rio News-Herald in September 1997 as an account executive in the advertising department. He held this position for a few years before accepting the position of Advertising Manager. He held this position until October 2013, when he became the Publisher of the Del Rio News-Herald. Guy married Raquel Castellanos Aguirre in June 2002. They were blessed with a son, Mario Alejandro Aguirre, on July 19, 2003. They are lifelong residents of the Del Rio community.

  • Bill Cornnwell,
    Publisher

    Bill Cornwell is the editor and publisher of The Facts newspaper in Clute, Texas. A 1978 graduate of the University of Texas, Bill Cornwell started his career with The Baytown Sun eventually working his way up through the advertising department to become advertising director.

    In 1987, he became editor and publisher for The Daily Sentinel newspaper in Scottsboro, Alabama.

    In 1992, Cornwell was named editor and publisher of The Facts newspaper in Clute, Texas.

    Cornwell served as president of The Texas Daily Newspaper Association in 1997 and he received first place recognition for the 2008 Carmage Walls Commentary Prize for “courageous and constructive editorial commentary”.

  • David Clemons,
    Publisher

    David Clemons was named editor and publisher of the Times-Journal in Fort Payne, Alabama, in August 2011. Previously, he served in the same role at The Walton Tribune in Monroe, Georgia.

    Clemons is the president-elect of the Rotary Club of Fort Payne, a member of the University of Montevallo National Alumni Association Junior Board of Directors and member of the United Givers Fund of DeKalb County, Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce and Alabama Press Association Journalism Foundation boards. He is a past winner of The New York Times Co. Chairman’s Award.

  • Leonard Woolsey,
    Publisher

    Leonard Woolsey is the publisher of The Galveston County Daily News. He joins The Daily News from the Times-Georgian in Carrollton, Ga., where he served as president and group publisher for a group of newspapers and magazines around the Atlanta market. He has worked for the Paxton Media Group of Paducah, Ky., since 1995.

    "I am very excited to join The Daily News and work alongside a very talented staff who serve the Galveston County community," Woolsey said.

    Previous to joining The Daily News, Woolsey managed newspapers in a wide variety of markets -- both large and small. But regardless of size, Woolsey insists each newspaper focus on its local communities first.

    "Newspapers are blessed to be chosen by their readers to represent and serve their communities, and that trust must be earned each and every day. It is my goal for The Daily News to be nothing short of the very best newspaper possible for Galveston County."

    Woolsey and his wife, Maryrine, have two adult children who attend college in Georgia.

  • Neice Bell,
    Publisher

    New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung Publisher Neice Bell was born and raised in San Antonio. She attended Schreiner University in Kerrville on an athletic scholarship. While still in college, Bell launched her newspaper career in 1979 as a typesetter at the Kerrville Daily Times. She moved into advertising sales and worked her way up to ad director. Bell published four weekly newspapers before joining the Herald-Zeitung as marketing director. From there, she was promoted to publisher of the Seguin Gazette and then to publisher of the Herald-Zeitung. She is married to Jeff Bell, and they have four children.

  • Mike Graxiola,
    Publisher

    Mike Graxiola has been publisher of The Kerrville Daily times since June 2009.

    He serves on the board of several non-profit organizations and is presently the chairman-elect of The Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce. Graxiola started his career with Southern Newspapers, Inc. at The Baytown Sun as a retail ad salesman shortly after graduating from The University of Texas in 1976. He was promoted to advertising manager in 1979.

    Graxiola has also served as publisher of The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise, 1984-1989, and The Paris News, 1989-2009.

    Graxiola and his wife, Debbie, have two grown children, Paul, and Trisha, as well as two grandchildren, Garrett and Eli.

  • Greg Shrader,
    Publisher

    Greg Shrader has worked for Texas newspapers since 1974 when he began his career as an advertising sales representative for the Houston Chronicle. He joined the Southern Newspaper family in 1990 when he became advertising director of the Galveston County Daily News after holding similar positions in Bryan and Abilene.

    He became publisher of the Kerrville Daily Times in 1995 and was named publisher of the Lufkin News in 2009 when Southern acquired the newspaper. A graduate of the University of Texas, Shrader has served numerous charitable and trade organizations and is currently Chairman of the Board of the Texas Press Association.

  • Robin Land,
    Publisher

    Robin Land began his newspaper career working as an outside sales representative for the Daily Oklahoman in 1978. Land has since worked at the Beaumont Enterprise and The Tyler Morning Telegraph before joining Southern Newspaper Inc.

    He became publisher of the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel in October of 2012.

    Between newspaper assignments Land worked in “big box” retail as Assistant Store Director for Super K-Mart and as Store Manager for Michaels Arts and Crafts.

    He currently serves on the executive board of the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation, Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau, is a member of the Nacogdoches Restaurant and Bar Association and a member of the Fredonia Rotary Club.

  • JD Davidson,
    Publisher

    A veteran of nearly 30 years in the industry, J.D. Davidson began his career as a sports writer in Ohio at his hometown community newspaper. He eventually became sports editor at the Mount Vernon (Ohio) News before moving to Georgia as a sports editor in three communities.

    He joined Southern Newspapers, Inc. in 2000 as the managing editor of the Fort Payne (Ala.) Times-Journal. He eventually became publisher and joined The Paris News in 2011.

    He has coached youth sports for more than 20 years and serves on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club, St. Joseph’s Foundation, the American Red Cross and several others.

    J.D. and his wife, Serita, have three children, Tyler, Jack and Sara Beth.

  • Ben Shurett,
    Publisher

    Shurett is a Tuscaloosa native and a 1974 graduate of the University of Alabama. He entered the newspaper business as a management trainee for Tuscaloosa-based Boone Newspapers Inc. in 1979, working in the advertising department of the Tuscaloosa News.

    In 1980, he became publisher of the newspaper in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He later published the Demopolis Times and the Troy Messenger in the Boone group. He joined Southern Newspapers Inc. in 1995 as publisher the Fort Payne Times-Journal and became publisher of the The Sand Mountain Reporter in 2006.

    Shurett has served as president of the UA National Alumni Association, chair of the UA Board of Visitors of the College of Communication & Information Sciences and president of the Alabama Press Association.

    He has won numerous awards in writing, advertising and photography from the Alabama Press Association. He is currently serving as president of the Albertville Rotary Club.

  • Brad Shurett,
    Publisher

    Brad Shurett, publisher, has been in the newspaper business since 2004. He began his career in advertising after serving in the United States Air Force and attending the University of Alabama. Shurett worked with the New York Times group and Buchanan Communications before joining SNI in August 2008 as publisher of The Daily Sentinel. Shurett resides in Scottsboro, Alabama with his wife, Kimberly, an elementary school principal, and their two English Setters, Cash and Henry.

  • Jeff Fowler,
    Publisher

    Jeff Fowler came to Southern Newspapers in 2004 with a background in marketing and distribution. Prior to becoming the publisher of the Seguin Gazette in 2012, he was the circulation director, then the advertising director at the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. He is very active in the community, serving on the board of directors for the Seguin Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club, as well as on the Seguin Area Recovery Board, Central Texas Technology Center Board, and New Braunfels Airport Advisory Board. Jeff and his wife Elizabeth are active in community theatre, and are avid hikers and Spurs fans. They have a son and three daughters, and a house full of furry, feathered, and finned pets.

Publications

  • Bay City

    Bay City Tribune

    The Bay City Tribune is the third-oldest newspaper in Texas. Established in Matagorda in 1845, the newspaper moved to Bay City when the location of the county seat was changed in 1894. It was published as both a daily and weekly from 1904-1959, when the weekly ceased publication. Carey Smith Sr. bought the Tribune in 1919 and owned it until his death in 1937. He was succeeded by son Carey Smith Jr., who led the paper until it was bought by Bay City Newspaper Inc. and Southern Newspapers Inc. in 1958. The newspaper converted to twice-weekly publication in 2002. Major events covered by the paper include several hurricanes and a yellow fever epidemic of the 1870s.

  • baytown

    The Baytown Sun

    Baytown's only daily newspaper became known as The Baytown Sun on Aug. 17, 1949, the year after the consolidation of the three communities of Goose Creek, Pelly and Baytown into one city, according to Baytown historian Buck Young.

    In 1950, Carmage Walls bought The Sun from Robert Matherne and promoted editor Fred Hartman to publisher.

    The Sun was Walls's first newspaper in Texas, the foundation of the group now known as Southern Newspapers, Inc. SNI owns community newspapers in Texas, Alabama and Georgia. It is a private company owned by Carmage Walls's widow, Martha Ann Walls, and their daughter, Lissa Walls Vahldiek.

    Baytown's first newspaper was The Goose Creek Gasser, founded in 1919 by Frank Boyer. In 1924, it was sold to three men who changed the name to the Goose Creek Tribune, a twice-weekly publication. By 1928, it became a daily.

    The Tribune also started a weekly in Baytown, the News-Herald. Meanwhile, in Pelly, a former Tribune employee, Joe Noland, began the Telegram, and C. R. Myers, a perpetual political candidate, published the Democrat.

    With the Great Depression, few business owners in a single small area could advertise in three newspapers, and all but the Democrat merged as the Peoples Printing Company, and in 1931, the first Tri-Cities Sun was published. In the late 30s, the newspaper's name to The Daily Sun, and in 1949, to The Baytown Sun. In October of 2009, The Baytown Sun began publishing Tuesday through Friday & Sunday.

  • delrio

    The Del-Rio News Herald

    The city of Del Rio, Texas, is located in Val Verde County on the Texas-Mexico border, with a population of 35,591 residents. Del Rio is 150 miles from San Antonio to the east and 154 miles from San Angelo to the north. Del Rio is home to the 47th Flying Training Wing, located on Laughlin Air Force Base and lies near Lake Amistad.

    An abundance of water and a temperate climate make Del Rio a recreational paradise, where hunting, fishing, bicycling, boating, golf and tennis can be enjoyed throughout the year.

  • thefacts

    The Facts

    The Facts newspaper, as it is now known, began on Feb. 28, 1913, as the Freeport Facts. Serving a community that was largely employed by the Freeport Sulfur Company, life was quiet on the Texas coast where the Brazos River meets the Gulf of Mexico.

    In 1938 the Dow Chemical Company chose the port city to begin magnesium production for a looming World War II. The city was literally transformed over night and as the area grew so did the newspaper.

    Southern Newspaper, Inc., purchased the newspaper in the early 1950’s. In 1976 the paper re-located to its current facility in Clute, Texas.

    The Facts is currently a seven-day morning newspaper serving the cities and townships of Southern Brazoria County along the Texas Gulf Coast.

  • fpth

    Fort Payne Times-Journal

    Fort Payne and DeKalb County are nestled in beautiful northeast Alabama. The top industry is tourism, with thousands of people coming each year to explore Lookout Mountain, the Little River Canyon National Preserve and the hometown of country music super group Alabama.

    DeKalb County is part of the 16-county “Thrive 2055” initiative for a strategic growth plan for the growing Chattanooga, Tennessee, area. Major employers here include Koch Foods Inc., The Children’s Place, Heil Co., Renfro Corp. and PlayCore. We’re located about 50 miles from Chattanooga, and 120 miles from Atlanta.

  • galveston

    The Galveston Daily News

    The Daily News holds the honor and distinction of being the oldest newspaper in the great state of Texas. Founded on April 11, 1842, The Daily News is in the 172nd year of serving the residents and visitors of one of the most popular destinations in the state.

    Based on Galveston Island, home to the city of Galveston, the newspaper has grown tremendously over the years from a weekly to a full-service, seven-day-a-week newspaper with a full assortment of magazines, digital services and other useful tools for the community.

    The Daily News has chronicled the history of the community from the days when Sam Houston served as the president of the then independent Republic of Texas. It served through the occupation by Union forces during the Civil War (publishing in Houston while the island was under Union occupation), the Great Storm (hurricane) of 1900 that claimed more than 6,000 lives (the highest loss of life in U.S. history), and the colorful days when wide-open gambling and Hollywood entertainers were regularly features of the island.

    Another interesting footnote in history is that The Daily News spawned The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 1, 1885.

    Today The Daily News serves a county of more than 300,000 just south of Houston, bordering the NASA space complex in the north to the remote beachfront homes along the Gulf of Mexico.

  • kerrville

    The Kerrville Daily Times

    The heart of the Texas Hill Country, Kerrville, population 22,000, is known for its beautiful landscape of rolling hills, streams and the majestic Guadalupe River that runs through the town.

    Kerrville is named after James Kerr, a major in the Texas Revolution, and friend of settler-founder Joshua Brown, who settled in the area to start a shingle making camp in the late 1840s.

    Kerrville is home to The Kerrville Folk Festival, The Symphony of the Hills, Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, Hill Country Arts Foundation, and Museum of Western Art.

    Major employers include Peterson Regional Medical Center, Mooney Aviation, James Avery Jewelry, and Schreiner University.

  • lufkin

    The Lufkin Daily News

    Lufkin was founded in the 1880’s to serve as a hub for the area’s timber industry. With a city population of more that 37,000 and more that 87,000 in Angelina County, the area continues to serve as a regional transportation, retail, banking and medical hub for a ten-county area.

    A strong manufacturing base includes Lufkin Industries, a subsidiary of GE, Georgia Pacific and Pilgrim’s Pride. Two major hospitals serve the area. Lufkin is located at the intersection of US Highways 59 and 69. US 59 has been designated a part of the Interstate Highway 69 corridor. Lufkin is blessed with abundant resources including water and is the gateway to Sam Rayburn Reservoir a 69,000-acre lake east of the city.

  • dailysentinel

    The Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel

    Nacogdoches is located approximately 140 miles NNE of Houston. With a population of 33,000 and is described as “the oldest town in Texas” with evidence of settlement on the same site dating back 10,000 years.

    During Texas’s fight for independence Nacogdoches was a frequent destination to historic figures such as Sam Houston and David Crockett.

    Nacogdoches is also home to Stephen F. Austin State University, which was founded in 1923 as a teacher’s college and currently home to 13,000 students annually.

    Notable industry includes Pilgrim’s Pride, Etech, NIBCO and Foretravel.

    Notable people from Nacogdoches include American soccer player Clint Dempsey, award winning author Joe R. Lansdale, and professional football coach Bum Phillips.

  • nbhz

    New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung

    New Braunfels, Texas, was founded in 1848 by a group of German settlers led by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels. Today, the Comal County seat is thriving, proud community nestled between two major metropolitan cities along the booming Interstate 35 corridor. New Braunfels’ population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, jumping to 57,000-plus in the most recent census. That continuing growth has spawned a vibrant economy that’s fueled by tourism and water recreation, quarries, the healthcare industry, nearby military complexes and a budding retail sector. New Braunfels is the national headquarters for world-famous Schlitterbahn Waterparks.

  • paris

    The Paris News

    On the banks of the Red River in Northeast Texas, Paris is a community filled with a history and a spirit that can be seen in its progress and its people. The county seat of Lamar County, Paris willed itself back from a devastating 1916 fire that destroyed nearly half the town to become the second-largest Paris in the world. Of course, it’s the home of a 65-feet tall replica of the Eiffel Tower, which wears a giant red cowboy hat.

    Paris is home to major employers Campbell Soup and Kimberly-Clark, and a world-renown healthcare community led by Paris Regional Medical Center. It also is an education leader thanks to Paris Junior College and five highly accredited K-12 school districts.

  • Sand Mountain

    The Sand Mountain Reporter

    The Sand Mountain Reporter was founded in 1954 by Albertville citizen Pat Courington Sr. and several investors. The Reporter serves Marshall County and parts of DeKalb and Etowah counties in northeast Alabama, including the towns of Albertville, Boaz, Crossville, Douglas, Geraldine, Guntersville, Horton, Sardis City and others. We publish each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with an audited circulation of more than 9,000. Delivery is by carrier and mail. Our news and sports coverage is primarily local, with some AP news with local connections. We also publish The Shopper, which covers an additional 13,000 homes, as well as Marshall Magazine, a glossy style quarterly publication. The Reporter is owned by Southern Newspapers, Inc., of Houston, Texas. Other Alabama newspapers owned by SNI include the Daily Sentinel, in Scottsboro, and The Times-Journal, in Fort Payne. Call us at 256-840-3000 for additional information or advertising rates. Our web site is www.sandmountainreporter.com.

  • thedailysentinel

    The Daily Sentinel

    The Daily Sentinel, Jackson county's oldest newspaper and formerly known as The Progressive Age and The Sentinel-Age, has been in circulation since 1887. It was purchased in the 1960s by Carmage Walls, founder of SNI. It moved to a 5-day publication schedule in 1970 and changed its name to The Daily Sentinel. It's published Tuesday through Saturday with a circulation of 4,500.

  • seguin

    The Seguin Gazette

    Seguin is a city of 25,000 nestled along the banks of the Guadalupe River east of San Antonio. The city is closely associated with the pecan — it is home to the “World’s Largest Pecan” and featured in HEB’s Creamy Creations line with their Texas Vanilla Seguin Pecan ice cream. The blue collar community is home to plants for major industries including Caterpillar, Alamo Group, CMC and Hexcel but also boasts a resurgent historic downtown built around two gems of the city’s park system — Walnut Springs Park and Central Park. Texas Lutheran University, a school honored regularly by U.S. News & World Report for both academic standards and value, calls Seguin home, while the award-winning Guadalupe Regional Medical Center offers top-notch medical care to the region.