The Shoals News
The Shoals News is published every Tuesday afternoon, dated for Wednesday; available in the office and at some newsstands as early as 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Saturday 8:00 a.m. - Noon
Advertising Deadline: 4:00 p.m. Friday prior to week of publication
Classified Deadline: Noon Monday, week of publication To place lifestyle, event, or group news, contact our staff. E-mail, fax, and walk-in submissions accepted.
The Shoals News was first published in 1888 by Albert C. Hacker as The Weekly Democrat, and then the Weekly News, before being changed to the present name, The Shoals News. After the death of Mr. Hacker in about 1909, the paper was owned by William D. Sherfick and Albert Sheetz. These owners, after a short time, sold to William C. Gruber, a Lost River Township school teacher, who later established a newspaper at French Lick. Gruber sold the paper to Bill Jackman in about 1912. Mr. Jackman published the paper for six years, selling out to Harry G. Strange, of Loogootee, in 1918. On October 23, 1945, a young newspaperman from Bloomington, Sanford A. Deckard, purchased The Shoals News. At age 36, he made the most of an opportunity to own and operate his own newspaper. Sanford Deckard started in the newspaper business as a youth, carrying papers, then working his way up the ladder to the actual production end of the business, He quit school following the 8th grade to take a full-time job at the Bloomington paper. His parents needed him to assist some with finances, due to his father's seasonal work in the limestone quarries. He had studied printing at school, as well as working at the newspaper, thus he had a keen interest in printing. The boss at the paper promised him a "full-time" job if he would vow not to return to school. He quit school, started at the newspaper, and continually advanced. His goal was to own his own paper. He was searching for a paper to buy when four became available, Mitchell, Oakland City, Shoals, and a small paper in Southern Illinois. Mr. Deckard had "second chance" at the Mitchell Tribune, following a Linotype operator who was currently employed there. Lowell Davis, the operator, jumped at the offer and bought the Mitchell paper. After looking at the other sites, Mr. Deckard liked Shoals the best. Partially, he often quoted, because he could work and watch the steam engines pass by the building on the railroad tracks just a few feet away. He had no money to buy the newspaper. Since his boss at Bloomington, Blaine Bradfute, wanted to help Mr. Deckard attain his dream, he walked with Deckard over to the Monroe County State Bank where Bradfute co-signed a note for the "down payment" for Deckard to buy the paper at Shoals. Deckard then used a hand-fed press (which is still housed in the newspaper office) to print promissory notes to Harry Strange for the balance of the purchase price.
In May of 1951, Mr. Deckard bought The Loogootee Tribune from Otto and Murray Harris. He sold the Loogootee paper to Harold and Charles Green in February of 1959. Deckard was printing both the Shoals and Loogootee papers "the old-fashioned way" in Shoals, and the workload was extensive. Offset printing was not yet evolved.
Sanford A. Deckard died at age 80 on February 23, 1990. Prior to his death, he spent six years in a nursing home due to diabetes issues, however, always maintained his knowledge and spirit, and assisted in decision making for any newspaper, business, or personal issue necessary. Sanford's wife, Lucile, was a Linotype operator at Bloomington, and did typesetting, proofreading, and bookkeeping duties for her husband after they were married a year after he purchased The Shoals News. She passed away on March 15, 1979.
His son, Stephen A., now age 69, the current Publisher and Editor, began writing a weekly column at the age of 7, so he now marks 62 years in the business. Stephen graduated from Indiana State University in 1969, and has been at the helm of the newspaper for the past 47 years, learning about the weekly newspaper life from his father.
Stephen's daughter, Audra Petty Deckard, is 23 years old. She began writing her own column, called "Audra's News," at age 9, and has never missed a deadline. It is one of the weekly newspaper's best read features each week. Audra graduated from Shoals High School in 2012 and Indiana State University in 2015.
The Shoals News continues to be a virtual museum, as a Chander & Price hand-fed press, a Linotype, drawers of hand type, many hot-metal items from days gone past, and old Compugraphic typesetters share quarters with the latest in Apple Mac equipment.
In the late 1960's The Shoals News was among the first weeklies in Southern Indiana to switch to offset printing, and prepared pages were driven to Scottsburg to be printed. This was followed by using the press at The Springs Valley Herald (a little closer to home) for several years. For over two decades now, the newspaper is printed each Tuesday by The Times-Mail, at Bedford. The paper hits the streets on Tuesday afternoon, and is in the mail on Wednesday morning, the publication date utilized. For several years, the paper was "pasted up" on grid sheets, then photographed. For over a year now, The Shoals News is e-mailed to the printer via the internet.
The late Sanford Deckard left two great legacies (in addition to being an exceptional newspaperman), his work to bring the gypsum industry to Shoals over a half-century ago, and his steadfast involvement to build West Boggs Park, North of Loogootee, where the main roadway bears his name. In addition to his many civic functions, including the Lions Club, the Community Foundation, and the 4-H Extension program, Stephen takes pride in his promotion of the town's annual big event, the Shoals Catfish Festival, which has grown annually over the past 23 years. Through the newspaper, Steve raises the money for the annual Catfish Fireworks show each July 4th. The Shoals News typically features over 100 festival photos, which is quite a task for a small weekly. Deckard, who has many 15 to 16 hour days, has only two employees, Anita Terrell and Theresa Fuhrman.
The Shoals News was a Charter Member of the Hoosier State Press Association, and both Sanford and Stephen have served on the HSPA Board of Directors. The newspaper is active in the Indiana Democratic Editorial Association, with both Sanford and Steve being Past Presidents, and both are recipients of the I.D.E.A. Metitorious Service Award.
The circulation hovers around 2,700 each week. Steve, his wife, Joy, a retired Registered Nurse and Case Manager for Vincennes University's Area Agency on Aging, and their daughter, Audra, live in an apartment in the second story of the newspaper building, which was constructed during the Civil War. Steve utilizes a cell phone, but the newspaper does not have an answering machine. The Publisher is available for the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because that is how a good weekly newspaperman serves his community. The paper does print two issues the week of Christmas, to allow the Publisher and his valued employees a few days break once a year.