Before Altus had a railroad, a highway or a telephone connection with another community, it had a newspaper. The first Altus newspaper was founded by Judge J.P. Orr, who brought the entire plant of the Vernon (TX) Globe to Altus on Nov. 29, 1900, when he began publication of the Altus Weekly News.
When the railroad was being built near Altus, a railroad official named Leger included the new community in its path.
Community officials had promised Leger they would name their town after him if he included them.
On Aug. 20, 1901, the town was renamed “Leger” and the newspaper became the Leger Weekly News. The name of the post office was changed to Leger on Oct. 1 of that year.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City, Mexican & Orient Railroad (now the Santa Fe) came to town from the north, while the Oklahoma City & Western (now the Frisco) came from the east. On July 4, 1904, the name of the town was changed back to Altus, and the Altus Weekly News resumed its former name.
Like many small frontier towns, several other newspapers were established in Altus.
In Dec. 1901, the Altus Times, a weekly, was founded by J. Ed Van Meter. Printed on a Proud power press, the newspaper supported the Republican Party and its candidates. The Oklahoma Democrat , another weekly, was started at Altus in 1907 by Bob Williams.
Jack Bonner purchased the Democrat from Williams in 1916, bought the Times from Van Meter, and then consolidated the newspapers as the Weekly Altus Times-Democrat . In 1924 Bonner sold the paper to H.L. Duncan and Hutton Bellah, both graduates of the University of Oklahoma’s journalism school. Under Bellah’s guidance, the twice-weekly Times-Democrat was named the nation’s outstanding community newspaper.
Bellah modernized the Times-Democrat by organizing the staff into advertising, circulation, business, news and commercial printing departments.
He hired top talent to head the departments, such as Matte Wilson Williams, who became head of the Altus paper’s news department.
Herringbone Kimberly was hired as business manager in 1924 following his graduation from the University of Oklahoma.
Kimberly and another 1924 OW graduate, Buff Burtis, purchased 25 percent of the newspaper from Duncan in 1928. That same year, with Bellah as editor and publisher Wimberly as business manager, and Burtis as advertising manager, the Altus-Times Democrat began daily publication.
In 1929, Eugene C. Pulliam of Indianapolis, Ind. purchased Bellah’s stock and established the Pulliam Publishing Company. Pulliam believed he could make a profit by buying up small Oklahoma newspapers.
During the rest of 1929 and 1930 he bought six other Oklahoma newspapers. Pulliam sent Burtis to the Clinton (OK) Daily News as business manager, and named Wimberly editor and publisher of the Altus paper.
On June 1, 1940, Pulliam sold Wimberly all the stock in the Altus Times Democrat.
In 1966 Wimberly sold the newspaper to Carmage Walls Newspapers. James H. Hale became editor and publisher on Oct. 1, 1966. A number of improvements were made, including the conversion to offset printing in 1969. Hale then left the Times-Democrat and later became publisher of the Kansas City (MO) Star.
Robert K. Gilmore became editor and publisher of the Times-Democrat on Feb. 1, 1970, and on Jan. 1, 1972, the corporation which owned the newspaper was bought by Jefferson Pilot Publications, a subsidiary of Jefferson Pilot Corporation.
On Aug. 1, 1984, the newspaper which was by then named the Altus Times, became a part of the Donrey Media Group when Jefferson Pilot Corporation decided to sell the publication division of the company.
Roger Foil was named publisher. He served in that capacity until his retirement in October 1994 at which time Lyle M. Extrom became publisher. The property was sold to Community Newspapers Holdings Inc. in September 1998. In February of 2000 Extrom assumed the position of publisher at another Community Newspapers Inc. property in Clinton, Iowa.
His successor was Jerry Pittman. Pittman resigned May 1, 2004 after the Times was sold to Heartland Publications of Ponte Vedra, Fla.
Gary Jackson, who had previously served the Altus Times as advertising director, was named publisher by Heartland.
Denny Koenders was named publisher of the Altus Times in October 2012.