In 2005, The Tidewater News marked its 100th year of continuous publication and service to Franklin, Southampton County and Isle of Wight County. In its debut edition on Oct. 20, 1905, The Tidewater News editorialized of its intention to “give our readers a clean, newsy and progressive sheet, printing impartially all the news of interest that is fit to print and making The Tidewater News a safe and welcome visitors into your home.” Through three ownership changes over the past century, that commitment to first-rate community journalism prevails today. Founder Paul Scarborough served as editor and owner of the newspaper until his declining health prompted its sale to W.F. Atkinson, Lloyd A. Darden and Edgar Jackson in March 1947. The Tidewater News was sold six years later, on Feb. 1, 1953, to F. Clyde Tuttle, who would serve as its publisher until selling the newspaper to Kenneth R. Byerly in 1957. The newspaper increased from weekly to twice-weekly distribution in 1959. Byerly’s son, Hanes, was named publisher in 1960 and continued in that role for nearly five decades, publishing 4,772 issues until his retirement in June 2006, when Byerly Publications sold the newspaper to Tidewater Publications LLC. The Virginia company is majority owned by Todd H. Carpenter, president and chief operating officer of Boone Newspapers Inc , and is managed by BNI. Others with ownership are President Steve Stewart, BNI and its key personnel. The newspaper grew from twice to three-times weekly in 2006, and is currently led by Tony Clark, who was named publisher in 2013. The Tidewater News has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association as the top newspaper in its circulation class for three consecutive years, beginning in 2012. The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation has bestowed a similar honor over the same time period, naming The Tidewater News winner of the 2015 Ishie-Quann award winner as the best media outlet in the state for agricultural reporting and news coverage.
4,500, distributing on Wednesdays and Sundays in Franklin, Southampton County and Isle of Wight County.
Located in the bustling South Hampton Roads region of southeast Virginia, Franklin, Southampton County and Isle of Wight County offer the peace and serenity of small-town living but proximity to major population centers.
Franklin and Southampton County are part of the Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Area, comprising 1.5 million people. Located at the head of the navigable portion of the Blackwater River, Franklin is 45 miles from Norfolk, 75 miles from Richmond and 195 miles from Washington, D.C. Southampton County is located on the Blackwater, Nottoway and Meherrin rivers and is home to two major U.S. highways: U.S. 58 and U.S. 460.
Franklin and Southampton County have a combined population of 26,100. The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission projects 49 percent population growth in the city of Franklin alone by the year 2026. Isle of Wight County’s population is nearly 30,000.
The area has an average annual temperature of 57.7 degrees and average annual rainfall of 43 inches. The average annual snowfall is 9.1 inches.
International Paper operates a major paper processing mill adjacent to Franklin in Isle of Wight County. Southampton Memorial Hospital, a 225-bed, full-service facility, is the city’s largest employer with 450 employees. Isle of Wight is home to Smithfield Foods Inc., a Fortune 500 Company, and its subsidiaries, Smithfield Packing Company and Gwaltney of Smithfield. Smithfield Foods Inc. is the largest hog producer and pork processor in the world. Combined employment in Isle of Wight County among Smithfield Foods and its subsidiaries is 4,500.
Paul D. Camp Community College is Hampton Roads’ leader in specialized educational opportunities. The college, with campuses in Franklin and Suffolk, offers technical, training and retraining programs to specifically address local business and organizational needs, with more than 40 different programs ranging from health care to welding to information technology. The city of Franklin’s public school district serves 1,300 youths on three campuses. It boasts a 93 percent college continuation rate. Southampton County’s public schools serve nearly 3,000 students on six campuses. Several private schools call the area home, including Southampton Academy, Isle of Wight Academy, Nansemond Suffolk Academy, Tidewater Academy and James River Christian Academy.
Recreational opportunities abound in Franklin, Southampton County and Isle of Wight County. Outdoor enthusiasts will find exceptional hunting, fishing and boating opportunities. The Nottoway, Blackwater and Meherrin rivers and many creeks and ponds support a wide variety of native fish, including striper, bass, speckle, bream and catfish. Southampton County is home to a large number and variety of both game and non-game wildlife. Deer are especially prevalent. The city of Franklin maintains 11 park and recreational facilities, including Barrett’s Landing at the south end of Main Street. Barrett’s Landing is an ideal setting for a brisk walk, fishing, or simply enjoying the peace and quiet. Outdoor concerts are common there during the summer months. Franklin is home to a first-rate YMCA facility with two gymnasiums, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, handball and racquetball courts, Nautilus center and Jacuzzi. Scenic Cypress Cove Country Club sports an 18-hole golf course with pro shop and a driving range. The club also features a pool, tennis courts and a full-service restaurant.