Western Communications in Bend, Oregon announced that Publisher and President John Costa will retire at the end of April and has named his successors of the seven-newspaper chain.

Succeeding Costa as publisher will be Elizabeth McCool, who will remain chairwoman of Western Communications. Dena DeRose, currently The Bulletin’s advertising director, will become chief operating officer of Western Communications, and Erik Lukens, The Bulletin’s editor, will become chief editorial officer of Western Communications.

Costa’s retirement takes effect April 30, but the changes in leadership occur April 1.

Western Communications, which owns seven newspapers in Oregon and California, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Jan. 22.

“The leadership of the company is in good hands, even as we proceed through a Chapter 11 process, which, by the way, is going well,” Costa said in an email to staff. “I have assured Betsy, Dena and Erik, as well as our superb legal team and outside consultants, that I will be available to help whenever I’m needed.

“All I can say now is that it has been a distinct honor and rare privilege to serve this great company.”

Costa previously was The Bulletin’s editor-in-chief until 2014 when he was named publisher. Prior to joining The Bulletin, Costa was the executive editor of the Idaho Statesman and deputy managing editor of the St. Petersburg Times.

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