Owner/Publisher Teresa Hatfield-Barger retires
By Lisa Bicknell
Teresa Hatfield-Barger is retiring as the publisher of the Citizen Voice and Times, Estill County’s nearly 50 year-old newspaper.
The decision has been a gut-wrenching one to make, but Teresa Hatfield-Barger, owner of the Citizen Voice and Times and the Clay City Times, has decided to retire. She will be liquidating both businesses in the coming weeks.
The December 29 editions are the final ones for both newspapers.
Her late husband Guy Hatfield founded The Citizen Voice in 1973. The first issue was printed on January 17 of that year, making the business just shy of 50 years old. He later bought the Irvine Times-Herald and merged the names, creating the Citizen Voice and Times.
Hatfied purchased the Clay City Times on April 1 of 1994. The Clay City paper was founded by J.E. Burgher in 1900 and has had several owners over the decades.
Teresa has been involved with the newspapers since before she and Guy Hatfield III got married in March of 1979. They dated for a year before they married, and even back then, Teresa sold ads and delivered papers.
She laughs that she never did do much reporting. She does remember taking photos of a drug bust one time and how she was “shaking in my shoes,” as the cops told her where and what she could or could not do at the crime scene.
During her time in the business, the role of newspapers has changed in many ways.
She remembers when people submitted long and detailed wedding announcements, as well as engagement and birth announcements.
The paper printed hospital news, including who had been admitted, and when they were dismissed. “Those were very popular features,” Teresa said.
That tradition ended as hospitals tightened confidentiality laws and as social media became popular.
At the time the Hatfields married, the paper was still operating from an office in Ravenna.
Teresa and Guy were expecting a baby when the paper offices burned in January of the year their son John would be born.
After the fire, they set up a newspaper office at the corner of Main and River Drive in Irvine where J and J’s Fashion had been located.
The fire destroyed all their office equipment, but family members helped them out and donated furniture and even money for them to rebuild.
In May of that year, Guy Hatfield purchased the old Colonial Hotel, which was still operating as a hotel at that time. The Hatfields rented “sleeping rooms,” and some of their patrons stayed there long term.
Teresa recalls that Ronald Durbin, a Mr. Brandenburg, a Mr. Gray, Teddy Bear Rawlins, “Too Tall” Snowden, Ricky Walters, and Laura Johnson, who worked for the Cedar Village downtown, were among those who lived there.
Dr. Strong, a dentist, and his wife Faye, a teacher, stayed at the hotel for a while after their home burned.
Gayle Davis lived in the corner apartment near the front where Teresa’s office is today.
Their patrons were like extended family, Teresa said. She remembers making sure everyone who lived in the building had Christmas dinner. Laura Johnson gave her extra pots and pans and told her that if she was going to cook for that many people, she needed more pans.
Besides her own fond memories associated with the building, Teresa recalls stories about the hotel from before their time there.
One side of the building featured a ballroom and a dining room, and Irvine High School would hold their proms here.
In the 1950s, the Colonial Hotel was used for conventions for county judges and magistrates.
When the Hatfields first moved to the historic hotel, the newspaper was housed in the basement. They had their own darkroom where photos were developed. They used a waxer, layout tables, and a PMT machine. With it, they created images of the completed pages, and the negatives of those images were taken to the printer.
As a former KPA president, Guy Hatfield was one of the most innovative publishers of his time. He was one of the first to transition to creating pages digitally. Teresa recalls that he made a point to visit every paper in the state.
Hatfield was plagued with diabetes-related health problems for much of his adult life. As his health declined, the paper offices were moved to the first floor.
The Hatfields raised their children, Tina, Traci, and John, in the building, right along with the business. Teresa describes it as being a busy place with the hotel boarders and the motel renters coming and going. There was always someone at the front desk, including a switchboard operator who connected callers to the phones out back in the motel.
As the kids grew up, they contributed to the work of the paper also. They would sometimes take photos at ballgames, help with the billing, sell ads or even occasionally write an article. The kids and Teresa also helped with a side business, the “Trim and Tan,” located in the building. At one time, Guy operated a print shop in the basement.
In January of 1995, the Hatfields built a house and moved to Round Mountain, a place they loved. But Guy continued to have serious health issues. He had a kidney transplant, open heart surgery and eventually lost both legs to amputation. They decided to move to Richmond to be closer to health care.
The newspaper business was Guy Hatfield’s lifelong career and passion. When he died in February of 2005, Teresa was working at Toyota South in Richmond. Employees of the newspaper called her frequently at work to ask for direction at the paper, so she decided to leave her job and stepped into the role of owner/publisher.
At first she felt overwhelmed by it all, but Teresa Scenters, a fellow owner/publisher, assured her, “You can do this.”
And do it, she did—for almost 18 years.
Teresa acknowledges that it hasn’t always been easy.
“You can’t have feelings,” she said, “although you do have feelings.”
While some people have been ticked off at the paper at times, “…there have also been some of the nicest people,” she said.
Teresa will be 68 in a few months, and she says that the time has come that most people retire.
“I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate the advertisers and this community.”
Without their support, she says, there wouldn’t have been a newspaper for all these years.
She admits that leaving the business and the old hotel, which she plans to put up for sale, is one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do. She has many emotional ties to them both with Guy and John now deceased.
“I have a lot of memories here,” she said. “and I will miss everyone a lot.”
December 29 was the final issue of both the Citizen Voice and Times and the Clay City Times. The assets of both papers will be liquidated, and Hatfield- Barger will be paying creditors as she dissolves the corporation.