To say the last few months have been a bit strange is an understatement of epic proportions. The COVID-19 pandemic has left the entire country feeling a bit confused and longing for normal routines to return.
My family and I have been no exception to that feeling. However, I am happy to say a degree of normalcy has returned as I re-enter the newspaper business at The Sand Mountain Reporter.
For the past seven years I have worked in the newspaper industry. I got my start in this business at The Arab Tribune under Charles Whisenant way back in 2013. Shortly after I started with The Tribune I was given the opportunity to work at The Advertiser Gleam in Guntersville. For more than four years I worked under Anthony Campbell. During both stops I learned a great deal about the newspaper business and the people of Marshall County, which is making the transition to the Reporter that much more seamless. While working for The Gleam, I covered the Marshall County Commission, Grant Town Council, Guntersville athletics and many other beats.
In 2018 I accepted a position in Greenville as the managing editor of The Greenville Advocate, The Luverne Journal and The Lowndes Signal. Adam Prestridge was the publisher of Greenville Newspapers LLC at the time and took a chance on a young, green reporter. I will always be grateful to him for doing so. I learned even more about the business as a managing editor and most importantly I learned a great deal about myself.
Despite my stent in Greenville being short, I truly enjoyed the job and the people of South Alabama. However, my wife, Lauren, and I had family concerns arise, which forced us to move back home.
My wife and I have twin four-year-old boys – John and Parker. They have been the challenge, and the joy of my life to this point. The phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is thrown around quite a bit, but it’s not used loosely in our household. Lauren and I literally could not make it day to day without the help of our family, and we will always be thankful for them.
It is because of our great family that I now have the opportunity to join the team at The Sand Mountain Reporter. When I found out that longtime Sports Editor Shannon Allen had taken over as publisher I was thrilled. For more than 20 years Allen has been a pillar of journalism in Marshall County. I have admired him from a far since beginning my career in journalism many years ago. To be able to work for him and learn from him is a true honor.
Marshall County has always been home for. It always will be my home. I have always felt local newspapers do much more than just report the news from a certain area – they tell the story of a specific place and its people. I plan to tell that story to the best of my abilities while also letting readers know what’s going on in local government, schools, sports and anything else going on in Marshall County and on Sand Mountain.
Despite all the uncertainty in the past few months I am thrilled to call The Sand Mountain Reporter my new work home. My hope is that we all start to see some normalcy soon if not very soon. Until then, kick back and enjoy the Wednesday and Saturday editions of The Reporter.
Joe Cagle is a staff writer for The Reporter. His email is email@example.com.