Creditors vote on fate of Jewish Times publisher

A vote among creditors that could help decide the future of the Baltimore Jewish Times ends on Friday, concluding the latest chapter in a contentious bankruptcy proceeding for the nearly century-old, family-owned publisher.

The result of the vote, which is to be tallied in coming weeks, will help guide a bankruptcy court judge, who later this month will decide whether Alter Communications, which has published the weekly newspaper since 1919, will remain family-owned and operated, or whether the firm will be turned over to its printer.

Alter filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2010 after losing a $362,000 judgment to the printer, H.G. Roebuck & Son Inc. of White Marsh.

Creditors will wrap up voting Friday on rival plans presented this summer by Alter and Roebuck.

Alter's plan would keep the Jewish Times and its other publications under family direction while a plan to repay creditors was crafted.

Roebuck proposes taking control of Alter as part of a plan to repay creditors, according to court documents. Alter had $650,000 in debts when it filed for bankruptcy protection.

A U.S. District Bankruptcy Court judge in Baltimore is to consider the creditors' votes at a hearing set for Sept. 20. The judge will then decide which plan is best for the company and its creditors.

The families that run the two companies have been in business together for decades, Andrew Alter Buerger, Alter's chief executive officer, said Thursday.

He said the trouble started a couple of years ago when he tried to negotiate lower printing rates but Roebuck wouldn't budge.

Mark Huna, vice president of operations for Roebuck, declined to comment Thursday afternoon. He said a Roebuck family member was not available for comment.

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