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Sierra Star Newspaper Closes Oakhurst Office After 60 Years

OAKHURST – The Fresno Bee announced yesterday that as of July 1, the Sierra Star will close its office at 49165 Crane Valley Road (Road 426) in Oakhurst.

Fresno Bee editor Joe Kieta, and president and publisher Ken Riddick posted an open letter to readers in this week’s print edition of the Sierra Star, noting that with the dramatic drop-off in foot traffic to the office, “much of the business conducted there can more easily be done online or over the phone, rendering the need for a physical space less important.”

The Sierra Star has been owned by the Fresno Bee/McClatchy Company since 2004 when it was purchased along with the Sierra Home Advertiser.

“The Fresno Bee is Central California’s leading news source, with more reporters than any other news source in the region,” said Kieta and Riddick in their letter to readers. “It is the daily newspaper serving Oakhurst and all of Madera County.”

The letter states that the closure of the office “will not affect the production of the Sierra Star’s print edition which will continue to publish weekly” in conjunction with their online presence. (Note: This letter is not posted on their website or Facebook page, so we could not link).

Betty Linn became general manager of the Star in 1983 and served as publisher for more than 23 years until her retirement in June 2017. She says it was a very sad day when she learned that the offices would close.

“I have so many happy memories in that building; fun and also challenging memories, but serving the community has been so rewarding.”

Linn says she’s happy that the Sierra Star, which has been the Oakhurst area’s local newspaper for over 60 years, will continue to provide news to the mountain area, even with the offices closed.

“It’s just a new age that we’re going into. As the world changes into a more technological society, so goes the newspaper business. Everyone’s moving into working from home, but you’ll still see your sales persons in your office and news will continue to be covered online and in print.”

Brian Wilkinson, who served two stints as editor – first from 1977 to 1982, and again from 2009 until May 2018 – has moved on to a new position with Delaware North at the Tenaya Lodge.

There is talk that a local health care provider will be expanding their operations into the location, but several calls over the past week to try and confirm those rumors have not been returned.

The first edition of the Sierra Star was published in November 1957 by owner/ publisher Jack Gyer. The offices were located at the northeast corner of Road 426 and Highway 41 in Oakhurst, current home of Ditton Realty and the Talking Bear. The original building has since been moved to Coarsegold near the Great Wall at Road 415 and Highway 41 – the yellow building now home to Wild Pete Publishing.

In 1983, the Star moved to its current location in the original Bank of America building on Road 426 across from Sierra Tel, and had more than 30 people on staff at the time.

Editor’s note: For those who are not aware, Sierra News Online and the Sierra Star are not the same entity. Sierra News Online is owned by a local mountain area resident, and supported solely by local business and our readers through their memberships. We have always enjoyed our friendly rivalry and good relationship with Betty, Brian and everyone else at the Star.

For more history on the Sierra Star visit https://www.sierrastar.com/news/local/article186944903.html.

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