The Columbia-based publisher of the Howard County Times and the Columbia Flier newspapers is laying off employees in a partial consolidation of its Towson and Columbia operations.

Patuxent Publishing, which publishes 13 Baltimore-area newspapers and is owned by New York-based Whitney Communications Co., told "under 15" employees two weeks ago that they would be laid off during the next 2 months, said Publisher S. Zeke Orlinsky.

"We're not sure what the number's going to be," Orlinsky said of the layoffs, explaining that the company was still working out details of the consolidation of design, production and classified departments.

All of the layoffs would be in graphics, advertising design ortypesetting jobs, he said.

Advertising sales and editorial staffswill not be affected, he said.

Orlinsky said the departure of a tenant from the company's building on Little Patuxent Parkway had freed up enough space for the consolidation.

He said the move was not forced by the recession, which has hurt publishers' advertising revenue nationwide, but rather a prudent step given the available space.

While he would not give numbers, Orlinsky said "we are not unhappy with our January (revenue)," which like other papers was less than 1990 revenue, he said, but "not that far off."

The company has offices in Towson for its Baltimore County weeklies, in Columbia for its Howard County papers, and in Laurel for another local weekly, the Laurel Leader.

Editorial and advertising staffs will continue to work in Towson, Orlinsky said.

Orlinsky said his employees were given more than two months' notice and the company will help them find new jobs.

"No, we're not throwing people out like other papers are doing. These are great people; it's not their fault."

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