By David White
In July of 1993, I was attending Southwest Texas State University trying to find my path in life, when I first walked into the Hays Free Press. I stopped into the office on FM 2770 because the phones were down in Mt. City where I lived at the time and I was looking for one that worked. The phones were out at the office too, but the then-production person, who was also an SWT student, showed me around the office and we were talking about photography and I had mentioned that I enjoyed taking photos and had done a lot of dark room work in school. That’s when publisher Bob entered the room from his separate office and said “you’re hired,” then left the building.
I didn’t know I was looking for a job, but that day I started my career as a journalist. I knew I wanted to do something with multimedia, but wasn’t sure what it was, so I just started doing whatever I could at the newspaper and tried to fill any void that needed to be filled. So, in addition to taking photos and running the darkroom and attending smoke-filled Kyle City Council meetings, I tried to learn the process of the paper. I learned that it was an ever-evolving process with few rules other than to tell the truth.
We didn’t have internet or email or digital pagination in 1993. I didn’t own a cell phone for another few years. So those first few years were exciting as we rapidly changed with the times. Since then, I feel like I’ve become family with some of the mainstays from the paper like Bob Barton who has since passed and Bob’s daughter-in-law Cyndy who was publisher for the past couple of decades and the rest of the Barton family and many of the people that entered this institution as haphazardly as I did. Many passionate, intelligent, creative and eccentric people have come and gone through my 28 years at the paper and I’m proud to still call many of them friends. But now it’s time to hang up my proverbial hat to continue with my second career — working in the Hays CISD communications department.
There are a lot of fresh new faces at the paper and I’m excited to see how the new and upcoming staff lead the paper … excuse me … lead this news organization.
After doing things the same for many years, we have fresh and eager individuals that are ready to take on the latest challenges that journalists and small town newspapers face.
Senior reporter, Megan Wehring, will take on the role of editor and reporters Brittany Anderson and CJ Vetter will continue covering all the latest news. Free Press/News-Dispatch followers can see what Anderson and Vetter are working on every week in our weekly Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch News Flash on Facebook Live along with advertising/social director Kim Fannin. Catalina Sanchez has taken over as lead graphic designer and will head up our social media campaigns. Elizabeth Garcia will continue to update our website and fulfill graphic design duties. Photographers Wayland Clark and Albert Sanchez continue to promote the accomplishments of many of our student athletes, and office manager Arlene Monroe will continue to keep the trains running on time, so to speak, dabbling in circulation, legal notices and being the first face you see when visiting the office.
Two faces you might not see very often, but make it all happen are mother-daughter team and owners of the Hays Free Press and News-Dispatch Tania French and Ashley Kontnier who handle the business side of the paper.
Leaving the paper is like tearing a piece of myself away, but I’m glad there’s a team here invested in continuing the fight. I think the newspaper’s co-founders Bob Barton and Moe Johnson would be proud of the legacy they created nearly 60 years ago.