EVANS COLUMN: Moving on after a rewarding six years at the VTN

Published 4:14 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2024

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As an Alabama boy at heart, I was very excited to get the opportunity to work at the Valley Times-News starting in 2018. I’d moved to LaGrange, Georgia in May 2017, which I described to friends and family as “Alabama, but just about 20 miles further east,” so they’d know how close I was to my home state.

I was born in Huntsville and grew up in Bibb County, so ultimately, my roots are in the Yellowhammer State. I started my newspaper career in Selma.

When we first moved to this area, Alyssa was eight months pregnant with our first child, and we’d come to town to consider a job opportunity with The LaGrange Daily News.

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Driving through Chambers County and Troup County, I remember saying, “We could happily spend the rest of our lives here.”

I meant it. Seven whirlwind years later, here we are. I’m leaving.

It still feels surreal to type those words.

I always said it would take an amazing opportunity to pull me away from the one I have now. I think I found it in another newspaper in Northwest Florida, and it helps that we will finally be close to family again.

Alyssa and I have spent about a decade four hours or more from our closest family members. My parents will now live right down the road.

It was a tough decision to leave this incredible place. I leave with some thoughts, probably best laid out in bullet points:

1) I feel like over the years I’ve met so many of you, a great many of you who have supported the VTN for longer than I’ve even been alive. Thank you for all of the conversations, all of the critiques, and the compliments.

2) During my time here, a lot has changed. Fewer print editions. More focus on digital readership but a promise to remember our core, our print product, along the way. We’ve become a news outlet focused on meeting you where you want the news — whether that’s traditionally like in print, online, social media, in a newsletter, etc. I do not doubt that all will remain true moving forward.

3) The importance of local journalism in this community cannot be overstated. This newspaper has an incredible staff that I’ve been so thankful to work with over many years. I hope I represented them well. They work very hard to bring you the news, and to help local businesses spread the word about their products. If you want news from Atlanta, watch TV stations. If you want to know what’s going on in Chambers County, log on to our website or grab a newspaper. Trust me, 99.9%, of the time we are the only ones at council meetings, commission meetings, school board, etc. And while your cable bill probably keeps rising, we haven’t raised our prices a penny since I started. (We’ve actually lowered them.)

4) Read past the headline! I’ll leave it at that.

This newspaper has been around since 1950. I was so proud to take on this role and represent all of the people who worked here before me.

Were we perfect? Absolutely not. But we always did our best.

I will miss Chambers County and Troup County dearly.