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Owner of 21 weekly newspapers files for bankruptcy protection

A company that operates 21 weekly newspapers in Amherst, the Tonawandas, the Southtowns and other local communities has filed for protection from its creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

But there will be no layoffs or cutbacks in operations, said the attorney for Community Papers of Western New York, owners of the Sun suburban newspaper chain.

“They will definitely continue operations,” said attorney Daniel F. Brown, who filed the Bankruptcy Court petition in Buffalo this week. “No one will be fired, there will be no layoffs. They’re not going to cease publication. It will be business as usual.”

The purpose of the Chapter 11 petition is to “give the company time to restructure its debt and some time to put themselves in a position to make an affordable schedule to pay off creditors,” Brown said on Wednesday.

Based on Aero Drive, Cheektowaga, Community Newspapers has 200 employees, most of them part-time, Brown said.

The company publishes the Amherst Getzville Sun, the Hamburg Sun, and Sun weeklies in Clarence, the city and town of Tonawanda, Kenmore, Lockport, Lancaster, North Tonawanda, Orchard Park, Cheektowaga, Springville, Cuba, West Seneca and several other communities. The company also publishes the North Buffalo Sun and South Buffalo Sun, in addition to four Pennysaver publications, and several magazines, including WNY Health magazine.

According to Brown, the company is run by James C. Austin, and it purchased the old Metro Community Newspaper chain in 2014. Metro Community Newspaper dated back to 1968, the attorney said.

On its website, Community Newspapers describes itself as “New York State’s largest publisher of free weekly community newspapers,” saying the chain delivers newspapers to more than 258,000 homes and more than 300 “bulk drop locations” each week.

In its court petition, the company estimated its assets and liabilities at between $1 million and $10 million, and the number of creditors at between 200 and 999. The case was assigned to Bankruptcy Judge Carl L. Bucki.

The creditors who are owed money by the company include Forward Financing of Boston, $206,730; Dual Print & Mail of Grand Island, $150,745, and Publishing Systems LLC of Portland, Ore., $94,424.