Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ky. town honors longtime editor and her column

The best community journalists forge strong bonds with the areas they cover, and that is clear in the case of Betty Smith, a longtime editor at The Winchester Sun in central Kentucky. After 31 years as lifestyles editor at the 7,200-circulation daily, Smith retired Thursday at a crowded reception at Winchester City Hall, reports the Sun's Mike Wynn. Thanks to a mayoral proclamation, it was "Betty Ratliff Smith Day" in the town of about 20,000. In the state Capitol, a resolution honoring Smith was passed.

"For three decades she has written about their births, their achievements, their marriages, the deaths of their loved ones," Wynn writes of Smith (above in a Sun photo by James Mann). "She was stationed at the front of the newsroom so they could drop off their church notices and then 'come have a seat' to unload their burdens."

Smith started working at The Sun in 1957 as the society editor and left in 1962 to work in city, state and federal government. She returned to the newspaper in 1982 to be the lifestyles editor and to write "Betty's Babblin's" — column about small-town life in Winchester. In her time at the Sun, she had many roles — archivist, receptionist, crime reporter and more — and she took part in major community organizations and groups as well.

"I have never, ever seen the connections between a community and its newspaper through one person like I have here," said Sun Publisher Dave Eldridge, recently appointed to his post by Schurz Communications, which bought the paper in 2005. (Read more)

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