As many of you have likely heard and read by now, my time here as the Publisher & Editor of the Newport Plain Talk is growing nigh.

I announced to our staff here on Tuesday morning that I will be leaving the newspaper on June 14. I will begin at marketing manager of Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System on July 1.

It is certainly a career change and is one that wasn’t easy to make.

Many of you have been reading my work for the better part of 16 years, way back when I started covering sports on a part-time basis for The Plain Talk back in 2003. I never would have thought that “cool part-time job” to make some extra cash in college would’ve led to a career in the newspaper industry, which saw me eventually elevated to Publisher 26 months ago.

Those ties and the wonderful people of Cocke County is what makes this such a difficult decision. This is not a decision I made lightly and is one that focuses a lot on more time to spend with family. I’ll beat the rumor mill to it, though, and say I’m not leaving because the newspaper is in trouble or failing.

In these past, nearly 16 years, I have had the pleasure of telling numerous stories. Some good, some bad. Some heroic, many inspirational. The people of Cocke County are some of the finest you’ll ever meet, and leaving telling those stories on an everyday basis make this decision extremely tough.

Since 2011, when I was elevated to the editorial team at the Plain Talk, my goal was to make our sports section the best in the state, and as I transitioned into administration in 2017, my goal was to make the newspaper the best in the state.

We’ve won plenty of awards over the years, but more importantly, having a passion for telling stories that otherwise would go untold was the biggest motivating factor for coming to work each day.

I am extremely grateful to everyone for allowing me to tell their stories and keep our community informed. Allowing me to become a small part of your lives is something I will cherish forever. I have great appreciation for each player, coach, administrator, government official and every day citizen who have made this job a lot better than it would have been punching a time clock at a real job over these past 15+ years.

Our small, but mighty, staff made this decision even harder. Like me, most here are all Cocke County natives and want to see our local paper flourish. They rose to the occasion time and time again to overcome every challenge thrown at them.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank several who gave me a guiding hand along the way in this business. From those who gave me a chance to write in 2003, to the many bosses I had during my budding days. Those who offered praise when it was due, or there to say maybe you shouldn’t have written that. I’d also like to thank the Jones family for trusting me with the keys to the Plain Talk these last two years and their efforts to keep a strong paper in Newport. Our staff though is the real hero, the ones making the difference each day.

The past 26 months as the Publisher of the Plain Talk have been a great opportunity to grow and have been a learning experience each and every day. I thought writing sports and being a sports editor gave me all the answers. I was wrong. Every day has had its successes, challenges and learning opportunities, but ultimately I have been very proud of the product that we have provided each day to inform our community.

This isn’t a goodbye by any means. I’ll still be in Newport. You’ll still see me at meetings, events and games. I’ve offered to freelance some on the side if the newspaper needs me to. I’ll still be here for another two weeks and look forward to interacting with many of you still.

Lastly, I would encourage each of you to continue to support your local newspaper. The newspaper has been around 118 years and I suspect it will be around for many more. I was lucky and fortunate enough to lead it for two.

I’ve preached for years your local paper is what you make of it. Our staff of Cocke County folks work hard to keep a good product on the street. I hope you’ve appreciated it as well.

There are many places you can be informed, for free these days, but they aren’t held to the standard we are and definitely the quality of work isn’t what you find inside of the newspaper. So continue to pick up the newspaper, or click those links. The folks here do a very solid job of leading our newspaper in a time when we are hit with an evolving field that demands more coverage, because of the readers’ insatiable appetite for news, than ever before.

Most importantly thanks for reading along all these years!

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