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The Valley deserves the best newspaper possible

The Greater Valley Area seems to be a place with a lot of potential. As someone looking upon it with a fresh set of eyes, please allow me to share a few things.

My name is Steven Thomas, and I am the new managing editor of the Valley Times-News. Here is a little information on me and what brought me here.

My hometown is Philadelphia, Miss., a small town similar to the Valley in many ways. We have our own history and local traditions (the area is home to the largest county fair in the state) and even our own hometown heroes (football legend Marcus Dupree and country music star Marty Stuart). It’s a community where everyone knows everyone else and if they don’t, then they’ll ask you enough questions until they do.

It was while I attended college that I fell in love with reporting and community news in general. You could always tell the people that put the most effort into a story had a vested interest in the community. After finishing college with degrees in journalism and history, I searched for a job that would allow me to produce content that I found interesting and connected to. I found that at my hometown newspaper.

It has been eight years since then. In that time I have gone from staff reporter to photographer to designer, moving from Mississippi to Florida to Tennessee, all the while maintaining a connection to the area that I covered. This is what I am looking to bring to the Valley Times-News, high quality news from someone personally invested in the area.

I did two things my first morning here: I walked and drove around the area to get a first-hand look and I bought a copy of the paper I now work for. I learned two things from this, the Greater Valley Area has so much it can offer to people, but more could be done to bring awareness of everything here, from local industry to education and even local events.

This is where I come in. With a little luck and a lot of community support, I feel we here at The Valley Times-News can showcase the area in such a way that this community deserves and can be proud of.

This will mean updating this long-running paper to a more modern style. It will also mean creating a larger online and social media presence, expanding from just being the local newspaper to being The Source for information about Lanett, LaFayette, Valley and West Point. This is not a task I am taking on lightly but I am confident it is possible.

Reaching this goal will require a larger presence in the community, which means being at every event and getting more involved. Locals can expect to see me everywhere, talking to people and getting to know them and the area they live in.

The Valley deserves nothing less than the best newspaper possible.

I am moving here from Nashville, Tenn., the Music City itself, and I am doing so because I believe community news has a brighter and longer-lasting future than any other type of publication. This is an opportunity that I plan to take full advantage of by adding to the valley’s already long history.

I will work hard and strive to make this newspaper the best it can possibly be. That task, though, is not an easy one. Even though there will be stumbles and falls along the way, the chance to work this closely with a community is too great an opportunity to pass up.

Thank you.