Handing over the reins

By Cyndy Slovak-Barton

As we turn the calendar page to a new year, it gives all of us time to reflect back. We might not want to get too melancholy about 2021; instead, let’s think about the recent holidays.

The holidays are the time that we get together with family and friends, and the friends that make up a family. We have those friends at work, in our neighborhood, in relationships through trade organizations.

Friends and family are the beings who get us through tough times, and the people with whom we enjoy spending time.

We all know that some people feel like family, even when they are not blood kin. And the importance of family and local ties is especially important for any local small business.

Barton Publications Inc. has been in the Barton family of Kyle and Buda since the 1950s when Bob Barton and Mo Johnson purchased the Kyle News while they were freshmen students at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State).

Their “family” included a lot of old Kyle family names, as this team of young people joined together to make sure that a newspaper hit the streets each and every week.

Over the years, the newspaper changed hands several times, some times being sold for a box of cigars; yet, it seemed to have always come back to the Barton family.

And there was always a member of the Barton family somehow involved. Bob Barton ran it for many years, covering meetings, writing columns, covering sporting events. Jeff Barton and Cyndy Slovak-Barton took over the reins from him in the 1980s, doing all of the same kind of work — writing, taking photos, selling ads, throwing the newspapers to homes, designing the pages. Jeff’s and Cyndy’s children also helped out over the years, doing all kind of odd jobs, from translating copy to Spanish, to sweeping floors, to taking photos and writing stories.

Cyndy has held the reins for many years as publisher, keeping the Hays Free Press and News-Dispatch from running off the rails.

Yes, it was truly a family newspaper and family business. 

But, it is time for a younger generation to take over. Someone with more knowledge of social media, video stories, design, websites and more.

So, it is with great pleasure that we announce that Barton Publications was passed on to another family with local ties, effective Jan. 1, 2022. 

Tania French with Something More Newspapers, which owns the Port Lavaca Wave, is purchasing Barton Publications, Inc. and will continue to run these newspapers with all the great stories, photos and investigations that have always been our hallmark. Her company is grounded in newspapers, but also does a lot of work with websites, specialty publications and more.

While Tania French splits her time between her home in Port Lavaca and her home in Kyle, her daughter Ashley Kontnier has lived in Kyle or Buda for the past 10 years, having purchased homes in Kyle and then Buda after her graduation from Texas State.

Ashley lives with her husband and son in Buda, has been a member of several networking groups, is known as a photographer extraordinaire, and is known to many local business owners because of her advertising connections with the Hays Free Press and News-Dispatch.

Another daughter, Schelly Bartels grew up in the newspaper business and has experience in various aspects of newspaper operations, even operating a printing press for a few years.

And, to make sure that our readers feel that family touch, David White, who has been with the Barton work family since he was in college, will remain on site, and will step up to take over the position of publisher. David has done everything from photography, to writing, to selling ads, to designing page. He is an award-winning designer and the walls of the office are covered with his contributions and accolades.

So, we take a step into the next year confident that these newspapers will still be putting out great publications. Readers can have confidence that city councils will still be questioned, that sports will be covered, and that your business’s ads will be front and center in front of thousands of readers.

The new owners will be at all kinds of events over the new few months, so get acquainted. Or, stop by the office. We are always up for a quick hello, a tip about a story, or an idea about the community.

In the meantime, the Barton family remains a part of Hays County, with other businesses and a new development in the works. We will not just sit in retirement. Instead, we look forward to a properous 2022.

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