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Long-time News-Journal publisher to retire

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By The Staff

A journalism career that started 36 years ago in Campbellsville looks like it will end in nearly the same place.

Central Kentucky News-Journal Publisher Richard RoBards, 61, announced last Tuesday to his staff that he will be retiring effective the end of June.

"It's been great to work for a company for a full 36-year career, doing something you love and with people and a community you enjoy," RoBards said. "I've been blessed beyond belief, really. I couldn't have asked for a better place to live, raise a family and work."

RoBards, who also has administrative responsibility over papers in Hodgenville, Lebanon, Springfield and Liberty, is exercising a new retiree health care benefit that Landmark, the parent company for the CKNJ, offered in late April.

"It is a very generous offer in the face of rising health care costs," RoBards said. "The offer encouraged me to reflect and make a decision that is certainly in my long-term best interest."

RoBards landed in Campbellsville in 1972 after a two-year stint in the Army and two final semesters at the University of Kentucky where he earned a degree in communications/marketing. For three years he wrote and edited sports and covered a variety of public meetings and community events. He later went on to manage papers in Springfield (his hometown) and Mt. Washington before returning to Campbellsville as general manager in 1979. He was later named publisher and then also regional manager of the four area weekly papers.

"Richard is one of the strongest newspaper operators I know," said Chris Ordway, publisher of the News-Enterprise (Elizabethtown) and regional manager for the CKNJ. "He has exhibited and modeled for his staff the characteristics and behaviors that have been key to Landmark's success."

"I hadn't given retirement serious thought until just recently," RoBards said. "I don't have anything planned, but I also don't think I'll be able to sit at home and scratch off items on Linda's honey-do list either."

RoBards has been active in community affairs for nearly his entire newspaper career, in whatever community he lived. In Campbellsville, he served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for three terms and was president in 1996-1997. Additionally, he was named Citizen of the Year in 1982 and Chamber Member of the Year in 1999-2000.

He has been active with Trace Creek Park Softball, where he and a group of parents helped build the two fields presently in use. He is also active in the Big Maroon Club at Campbellsville University and entertains a Little Brother through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

RoBards tutored for the Taylor County Literacy Commission and served on committees that helped develop Reality Town and Leadership Campbellsville/Taylor County.

He continues to cover community activities with a notepad and camera even after his administrative chores expanded to include four additional counties.

"You can't connect with a community from behind a desk," he said. "The best way to hear what people are saying and learn what's going on is by hanging out where they congregate."

RoBards and his wife, Linda (who retired this year after 22 years of service with Campbellsville Independent Schools), have three grown children - Margaret, J.R. and Teri - and two grandchildren.