Rusty Ferguson takes office as president of the Oklahoma Press Association

Rusty Ferguson, publisher of The Cleveland American, took the office as the

president of the Oklahoma Press Association on July 1.

Ferguson, 49, was elected by OPA business members at the Mid-Winter

Convention in February and will serve a one-year term. He succeeds Rod

Serfoss, publisher of The Clinton Daily News.

Also taking office for the 2011-2012 term are Jeff Shultz, publisher of The

Garvin County News Star, as vice president, and Gracie Montgomery,

co-publisher of The Purcell Register, as treasurer.

Mike Brown, publisher of Neighbor Newspapers in the Tulsa area, begins a

three-year term on the OPA board of directors on July 1. Other directors are

Jeff Mayo, Sequoyah County Times; Jeff Funk, Enid News & Eagle; Dayva

Spitzer, Sayre Record & Beckham County Democrat; and Brian Blansett, Shawnee

News-Star. Serfoss will serve a one-year term on the board as past

president.

Ferguson grew up in the newspaper business. His grandfather, Jo O. Ferguson,

bought The Cleveland American in 1931 and started The Pawnee Chief a few

years later. His father, Larry R. Ferguson, published The American next,

while his uncle, D. Jo Ferguson, published The Pawnee Chief for many years.

The Hominy News-Progress is also published by the Fergusons.

“We in the community newspaper business want to sound-off loud and clear

that we are not going anywhere. We are embracing, not resisting, changes

brought about by the incredible advance of social media,” the OPA president

said. “Community newspaper readers still want their hometown newspapers and

many of us are offering it to them in multiple formats. Our readership is

strong. We are creative people who will continue providing hometown news

like no one else does and continue to offer the best advertising buy for the

dollar.”

Ferguson said he hopes to find avenues to celebrate the talent that exists

in newspapers of all sizes across the state and to find ways to pool that

talent for the greater good of the industry.

Ferguson graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1984 and returned to

Cleveland a year later with his wife, Deana, to become publisher of The

Cleveland American. His father had been elected to the Oklahoma House of

Representatives and passed the paper to Ferguson.

Ferguson is active in his community having served as president of the

Cleveland Chamber of Commerce on three different occasions and currently

chairs the local library’s board of directors. He is chairman of the Hanson

Educational Trust, a million dollar trust that awards an average of $35,000

each year to graduates of Cleveland High School. He is an elder as well as

children’s director of First Christian Church in Cleveland. He has also

served on the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation board of trustees since 2002.

“I think you’ll find it common in communities across this great state that

newspapers not only provide the local news the townspeople need to know, but

also play a key role in supporting the active civic life that makes their

piece of Oklahoma special.”

The Fergusons have four children: Liberty and husband Sol, Lincoln, Landon

and Layne, all who have or are following their parents as OU Sooners.