Little to change at the Dundalk Eagle despite sale, outgoing publisher says

The "Mystery Beauty" is staying right where she is, for now. One of the most popular features of the Dundalk Eagle, Beauty, along with other columns in the paper, isn't going to change despite the recent sale to the Minneapolis-based Adams Publishing Group, which was announced to the paper's staff on Monday. Though the terms of the sale were not public, now-former publisher Deborah Cornely assured City Paper that the 45-year-old community paper will remain in its North Center Place headquarters and continue to be the journalistic voice of one of Baltimore's largest blue-collar communities.

"We're confident that [The Eagle] will continue its commitment to reporting in the community," she said during an interview at her office on Wednesday.

Cornely confirmed that the paper's current building, a two-story former home and doctor's office at the edge of the market square, was part of the deal.

"I don't think we're going anywhere," she said.

Cornely took over as publisher when her mother, Mary Oelke, who founded the paper with her husband Kimbel “Scoop” Oelke, in 1969, passed away in 2010.  Up until the sale, the paper was owned by the Oelke family, who turned down offers over the years from Patuxent Publishing, Chesapeake Publishing, and Tribune. 

"It's time," said Eagle advertising rep and Cornely's sister Kim Boone. "It was a good offer and it's going to be great being part of a larger family of newspapers."

The new buyers also own the Cecil Whig, Easton's Star Democrat, and The Avenue in Essex. According to Steve Matrazzo, the Eagle's current editor-in-chief, the paper may be working very close to its new sister publication in Essex.

"It's my understanding that [APG] will create a synergy between the two publications. It's good for us as we'll have access to journalistic and technical resources not available to a smaller company," he said. "After speaking with the new owners, I'm confident that there will be no change in the quality of our community journalism."

The residents of Dundalk lived through major community events, such as the numerous sales of Sparrows Point and the ultimate death of the steel industry there, and the siege of Joseph Palczynski, within the pages of the award-winning weekly (full disclosure: I worked at The Eagle from 2002-2011). They read the obits—the most popular section of the paper—which will remain free, according to Matrazzo, and try to guess the identity of the local "Mystery Beauty" for a shot at a small prize. Since its inception, the paper has won numerous awards including City Paper's "Best Neighborhood Newspaper" in 2012 and "Best Columnist" in 2000. 

"I'm still in shock mode," said associate editor and sports reporter Bill Gates, who as been an employee of the paper since 2000. "We were called to a meeting and told we had been sold and the new owners would be in to meet us almost immediately. [Cornely] was shaken up a bit announcing it to us. I'm confident we'll be fine. We're literally a community newspaper and that's how we're going to stay."

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