EL CAMPO – U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) has named former publisher and longtime El Campo resident Chris Barbee as his district field representative for the southern end of the 27th Congressional District.
Barbee will handle Wharton, Matagorda, Jackson and Calhoun counties.
“Congressman Farenthold has a large geographic district. As much as he’d like to attend all of the many events happening in the district, and personally visit with as many people as possible, that just isn’t possible,” Barbee said. “So, he has three district field representatives helping him to keep in touch with constituents. The congressman has offices and staff in Corpus Christi, Victoria and now in El Campo.”
The former Leader-News publisher replaces Carol Wootton of Wharton, who served as Farenthold’s field representative for four years, leaving the position on Aug. 31.
Barbee moved to El Campo in 1968 when his parents Fred and Eleanor Barbee purchased the El Campo Leader-News and Radio Station KULP.
The newspaper business was already a family tradition. Barbee’s grandfather, Fred V. Barbee Sr., was mechanical superintendent of the Brownwood Bulletin at the time of his death in 1963.
A 1970 graduate of El Campo High School, Barbee graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1974. He returned to El Campo to help run the family businesses, which grew to include the Wharton Journal-Spectator, East Bernard Express, Edna Herald and Ganado Tribune.
The Herald and Tribune were sold a few years later, and KULP was sold after 32 years operating as BarB Broadcasting.
Working his way up from sports editor and managing editor of the Leader-News, Barbee was named publisher of all three Wharton County newspapers when his father died in Oct. 2007.
In May 2009 he and his partners sold the paper. He continued to serve as Leader-News publisher for the new company through December 2010.
Barbee served as president of Texas Gulf Coast Press Association (1981-82) and South Texas Press Association (1988-89). He was also president of the Texas Press Association (1991-92), following a family tradition. His father was TPA president (1978-79); TGCPA president (1967-68), STPA president (1985-86) and West Texas Press Association president (1967-68).
Since leaving the newspaper business, Barbee served as community services director for the City of El Campo, a position he held until March 31.
He began his work with Farenthold’s office in September.