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Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame chooses 4 new members

August 19, 2021 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two media executives, a former newspaper owner and a veteran Associated Press correspondent have been chosen for the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame.

The inductees are Lloyd Ballhagen, former CEO and board chairman for Hutchinson-based Harris Enterprises; Roxana Hegeman, AP’s Wichita correspondent; Joel Klaassen, former owner of the Hillsboro Free Press; and Tom Slaughter, executive director of the Inland Press Foundation and a former AP executive.

They are to be honored during a ceremony Oct. 9 in Newton.

Ballhagen was editor and publisher of the Hays Daily News when he joined Harris Enterprises. He became its president in 1978, CEO in 1984 and board chairman in 1992. He retired in 1997. Harris once operated 11 daily newspapers and 13 broadcast stations and sold most of its assets in 2016 to GateHouse Media.

Hegeman has been AP’s correspondent in Wichita since 1998. She also worked in AP’s New Orleans bureau after founding and running a newspaper with her husband in Montana. Born in Cuba, she emigrated to the U.S. as a young girl with her parents. Hegeman was AP Staffer of the Year for Kansas in 2005 and 2016.

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Klaassen helped run the presses for the Hillsboro Star-Journal as a teenager and founded the Hillsboro Free Press in 1998. He also established a book-publishing company, Print Source Direct. He sold his majority interest in the newspaper in 2014.

Slaughter has been the Inland foundation’s executive director since 2011, and he was also executive director of its sister Inland Press Association until it merged with another group in 2019. He began his career in 1973 as a reporter in AP’s Topeka bureau and later became an AP executive, including director of strategic planning.