Herald/Argus newly named publisher busted for DUI

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RUTLAND — The next publisher of one of Vermont's largest and oldest newspaper companies is facing charges for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident.

Rutland City Police confirmed that Catherine Nelson, who was just tapped to lead the Rutland Herald and Times Argus, was arrested on Dec. 26 and faces charges of drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

Police say Nelson was arrested after 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 26, after police responded to a scene in the Howe Center in Rutland, according to a press release from police. Nelson crashed into a porch and a guard rail. She then crashed into the Westminster Cracker Company building. A breathalyzer test showed that her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

The newspaper owners announced Tuesday morning, just days after the arrest, that Nelson would take the helm from the longtime publisher R. John Mitchell.

Nelson, 64, currently the company's vice president and CEO, joined the company in 2006. She did not return calls for comment Tuesday. Mitchell and other representatives from the newspaper were also unavailable.

Mitchell's family has owned the Rutland Herald since 1946, and the Times Argus since 1964. He began selling advertising for the company in 1965, and took over as publisher in 1979.

Mitchell told staff at both newspapers that he would be stepping down during a meeting Monday afternoon. He will remain president and chairman of the board, according to the the announcement.

"I thought a Mitchell had to be the publisher, and I said I don't think the community really cares as long as the paper does its job," Mitchell said in the announcement.

Mitchell's son, Rob Mitchell, the current editor of the Rutland Herald, will be the editor-in-chief of both newspapers.

The company announced that the New England Business Journals, which the family acquired in 2003, will cease to be printed independently at the end of January. There are plans to incorporate the journal as an insert in the Sunday newspapers.

One position in the sales department has been cut, and, under the plans, four field editor jobs will be eliminated as well. Many of those individuals also freelance for the business journals, according to the announcement.

The Herald's circulation has declined from a peak of 25,000 copies to 11,800 currently. The announcement noted that ad revenues have been flat, impacted by the departure of Sears and J.C. Penney.

"I told the staff we've had a difficult 10 years our industry has taken," Nelson said in the announcement. "But just like the Rutland community, we have a renaissance, and we think we're going in the right way."

Elizabeth Hewitt is the criminal justice reporter for VTDigger. She can be contacted at ehewitt@vtdigger.org. Follow Elizabeth on twitter @emhew.


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