Old World Getting New Orbit, Slowly

Old World Getting New Orbit, Slowly
The world headquarters of the Helena World at 417 York St. in Helena-West Helena. (Google Maps)

It turns out you can’t make the World go away.

It’s been a year since local investors bought and revived the Helena World, and Andrew Bagley, one of the new owners, reports that he is serving as editor as the weekly perseveres through the coronavirus crisis.

The state of the World is mixed, he admits, with subscriptions up about 200 from a base of 1,000 when it was abandoned in 2019 and shut down by the news chain now known as Gannett. (Back then it was GateHouse Media Inc.)

However, the pandemic has battered event advertising and delayed plans to complete renovation and move back into the weekly paper’s historic headquarters on York Street.

Bagley joined Helena businessman Chuck Davis to rescue the World, and they’ve been using local contractors to restore the paper’s old headquarters at 417 York St.

Bagley and Davis’ Helena World Chronicles LLC paid Gannett $15,000 for the 6,000-SF property and had hoped to be operating from the building by Labor Day. “That was a little optimistic,” Bagley said, noting that a lot of work had to be done.

“Larry Delk & Associates did the fascia, Helena Construction did the roof, Henson Heating & Air did the HVAC, and Whaley Electric did the electrical work,” Bagley said. “Every one of them is local.”

Bagley, who teaches U.S. history and political science at Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, has kept that job since taking over the paper’s editorship early this year. Rick Wright departed to become publisher and editor of the Dumas Clarion. Like other UA campuses, PCCUA plans to resume in-person instruction this week, and faculty reported back last Wednesday.

The World has two stringers writing news, a bookkeeper and a contract paginator. Bagley does much of the rest, and plans to keep it up until ad revenues rise enough to hire a multitasker as editor. “It’s going to be very busy for a while,” he said.