HUTCHINSON — GateHouse Media Senior Group Publisher John Montgomery announced Monday he’s leaving the company, effective May 8.

Montgomery was publisher and editor of the Hutchinson News for 10 years before it was purchased in November by Gatehouse Media. He said he will be moving to the Kansas City area.

Steven Curd, Lee’s Summit, Mo., will serve as interim senior group publisher until a replacement is found, which he expected to take several months.

The announcement was made to staff during a company-wide meeting.

“I decided the time was right for me, professionally and personally, to make a change in my life, to see what else is out there and try something new,” Montgomery said. “I believe change is healthy. I’ve been at the News 10½ years. It’s also healthy for the organization to have new leadership.”

With the purchase of the News by GateHouse, Montgomery took on the role of publisher for 16 newspapers, most in Kansas, including three in Colorado. He continued to work out of the Hutchinson News office, though traveling weekly.

“It’s been a very challenging post,” he said. “I’m grateful GateHouse gave me the opportunity. Obviously when GateHouse bought the Harris Group there were a lot of opportunities and synergies there. I enjoyed doing a fair amount of the heavy lifting of putting the two groups together.”

“Change is constant today in the newspaper industry,” Montgomery noted. “It’s a lot of hard work. Some of the changes are difficult, but some of it is very exciting.”

“I always thought I’d always be doing this,” Montgomery, 50, said of newspapers. “But things change. I’m not getting any younger, if I want time to explore my options.”

The son of a longtime newspaper publisher, Montgomery worked for Harris Enterprises since joining its executive training program in 1991. He was editor and publisher of the Ottawa Herald and then The Hays Daily News before taking the post in Hutchinson.

Montgomery says he has no immediate plans, other to than to join his wife and daughter, who moved to Kansas City shortly after learning the Harris company was up for sale.

“I’m proud to have been associated with the legacy and tradition of the Hutchinson News,” Montgomery said, pointing to the paper’s 1965 Pulitzer Prize and the News winning the Kansas Press Association’s Sweepstakes award in the large newspaper division the past seven years, for either editorial, advertising or both, competing against all of the state’s major newspapers.

“The staff is all good people, just outstanding professionals,” he said.

He also was happy to be involved with a number of organizations in Hutchinson and Reno County, serving on their boards, Montgomery said.

That included being on the Hutchinson Downtown Revitalization Partnership, “which has been a passion for me,” as well as just completing a two-year term as chairman of the Hutchinson Community Foundation.

“That’s been very rewarding,” he said. “The (community foundation) has done a lot of good work, and I’ll miss being a part of that.”

Curd, a past group publisher for GateHouse Media in Independence, Mo., has a history as a sales and marketing executive with a number of different companies. He has worked in the direct mail industry the past five years and was for many years at the Kansas City Star.

A graduate of Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Curd also was director of strategic initiatives and director of the Midwest sales territory for direct marketing company Mailsouth/Mspark, and has been a Great Clips franchise owner in Kansas City, Mo., since 1997.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to learn about the community and be involved with it,” Curd said. “The process for the next couple of months will be for me to carry on what John has been doing very well for the last 10 years.”