Klaassen honored by press association

The Kansas Press Association (KPA) recently held their annual awards ceremony. This year it was held virtually due to COVID-19.

At the ceremony, an important award was given out to The Free Press’s own founder Joel Klaassen.

Klaassen was nominated for the Gaston Outstanding Mentor Award by current Publisher Joey Young who is also President of the KPA.

If it weren’t for Joel, I wouldn’t be the president of The Kansas Press Association, the majority owner of this company, or be in a position to carry on a great publishing legacy he started. I am so happy that the press association judges decided Joel was worthy of this high honor for mentorship. He certainly deserves the award,” said Young about nominating Klaassen.

Young gave some background on Klaassen and his many achievements over the years.

Joel has been in the business of printing newspapers for most of his life. He worked as a printer’s devil sweeping the floors and smelting lead to be reused by lead cast machines all the way back in 1959 as a kid. He has worked for the Hillsboro Star Journal, KU Printing Service, Herald Book and Printing Company, Kansas University Printing Service, Herington Advertiser Times, Topeka Capitol Journal, The Lawerence Journal World, Jostens, The Wichita Sun and more—before starting his own paper The Hillsboro Free Press in 1998,” said Young.

Young also gave a few words about Klaassen as a person.

Joel has been a disrupter, mentor and all-around like-able human being his entire life,” said Young. “Joel has ink flowing in his veins.”

Klaassen was unable to be available to accept the award due to health issues, but he did provide a comment.

“I enjoyed working with all the talented young people that were part of our organization through the years. It wasn’t a chore, it was fun. I’m happy that Joey and Lindsey Young are taking it to a higher level. The fact that I knew the Gaston family makes the award even more special,” said Klaassen.