The sale of the Ogden Standard-Examiner to an Ohio newspaper group appears imminent, sources said.

Sandusky Newspapers Inc., based in Sandusky, Ohio, has been negotiating with the George Hatch family for several months to purchase the 104-year-old newspaper, and the sale could be completed within a week.Employees were notified by letter that they would have to reapply for their jobs with Ogden Publishing Corp. because of the impending sale. Late last year, Sandusky Newspapers Inc. filed papers of incorporation as a Ohio corporation doing business in Utah.

"It's an asset purchase agreement. There is a formal termination and rehiring process, but they intend to rehire virtually the entire staff," said Standard-Examiner publisher Randy Hatch.

Hatch said the sale could be completed by the end of March "if we can surrmount a couple of other hurdles. We don't have a firm date or anything like that yet."

The employee letter indicated W. Scott Trundle would be the new publisher of the Standard-Examiner.

David A. Rau, president of the Sandusky group, was not available for comment Wednesday morning.

The Sandusky group, a family owned corporation, owns newspapers in Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee and radio stations in four other states. The corporation is more than 70 years old, he said.

Sandusky Newspapers Inc. owns four evening newspapers, all published Monday through Saturday, according to the Editor and Publisher 1992 Yearbook.

The newspapers are the Sandusky Register, published in Sandusky, Ohio, with a circulation of 23,318; Kingsport (Tenn.) Times-News, circulation 46,979; the Grand Haven (Mich.) Tribune, circulation 10,546; and Norwalk (Ohio) Reflector, circulation 9,187.

The Standard-Examiner also is an evening newspaper.

In April 1989, the Hatch family acquired controlling interest in the Standard Corp., publisher of the Standard-Examiner and majority owner of KUTV Channel 2 television. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

E.W. Scripps Co. guaranteed $53 million of the Standard's debt, according to Scripps' 1989 annual report. In exchange for the guarantee, Scripps has had the option to acquire equity interest in the Standard-Examiner if the company failed to pay off the loan.

Pressured by debt and depressed advertising revenue affecting the entire newspaper industry, the newspaper has laid off employees, instituted a hiring freeze and imposed unpaid furloughs on employees during the past two years.

Last November, Utah businessman Joe Cannon discussed buying the newspaper to keep it under local ownership. He later decided not to buy it. Frank J. Cannon, Cannon's great-uncle, published the first issue of the newspaper on Jan. 1, 1888.