73-year-old woman still writing for Coal County paper after 24 years

By  | 

COAL COUNTY, OK -- She has become a staple in the Coal County community. For more than two decades Wanda Utterback has been working well over 40 hours a week telling the community's stories in the local paper. News 12 spent the day following Utterback, who just cannot seem to give up the job she loves even at the age of 73.

For the past 24 years, Wanda Utterback has worked for the Coalgate Record Register writing every news story and snapping nearly every picture for the paper that comes out every Wednesday.

"She's at the City Hall taking in council meetings, she's at the commissioners meetings, taking in the county commissioners meeting and she goes pretty much everywhere," Coal County Commissioner Johnny Ward said.

Going on 74 Wanda has thought about retiring many times, but she just can't seem to slow down.

"I always say I'll probably die with my camera around my neck, shorthand pad in hand and that will probably be the case," Wanda laughed.

Wanda, a Tulsa native, moved to Coal County in 1990 as a retired secretary and it was an ad in the newspaper that led her to the next chapter in her life.

"Part time reporter wanted, ten hours a week, low pay, terrible boss," said.

Despite the job description she took it, not knowing exactly what she was getting into.

"And ten hours a week, didn't last a week," Wanda laughed.

But it did not take long for her to fall in love with the job and become part of the community.

"Yea she's a friendly person, easy to talk to," Bill Weathers, a longtime Coal County resident, said.

"She's just a friendly person, a caring person and she laughs and we have fun, and she's just like a friend," Margie Jump, with the Coalgate Library, said.

"I don't know what we'd do without her. She is just, she is Coal County it just seems to be in her blood, you know she cares and she'll be here till the end," resident Rebecca Washburn said.

While she is friendly with just about everyone in Coal County Wanda does not shy away from reporting the facts and always tries to be fair and accurate

"I just try to say it like it is," Wanda said.

"I don't think Wanda backs down from anything, if it's something there that pertains to the courtroom she'll ask tough questions. If its out on the road or anywhere else. She doesn't shy away from anything," Ward said.

Wanda says she feels it is her responsibility to let the community know what is going on and says she is not going anywhere anytime soon.

"I'm here for good. I'm here to stay. I got to keep aggravating them," Wanda laughed.