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Filling in while filling vacancy

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By Melissa Blankenship

Turnover in the workplace is always difficult. While a position is vacant, others on staff have to fill in the gaps left by the recently-departed – on the job, not this world.

Invariably, someone has to work overtime, not everything gets done and sometimes things get missed, either unavoidably or accidentally.

When turnover happens at a business as small as the Henry County Local, it is especially painful. While searching for a replacement for Brad Bowman, who has gone on to a better place – on the job, not this world, I have filled in as editor. Ably assisted by our new reporter, Will Phillips, we’ve managed to push a paper out each week. Will has done an incredible job, especially in light of the fact that he is a senior in college, just about ready to graduate. His plate has been very full and he’s done an excellent job of taking care of his business and our business, all at the same time.

Fortunately for us and for our readers, there is a light at the end of this turnover tunnel.

We will soon be joined by a seasoned newshound, Chris Brooke. Chris comes to us as a Landmark Community Newspapers, Inc. transfer from a sister paper in Galax, Va. He has nearly 20 years of experience and a proven track record as a journalist.

He has already done his homework on Henry County. When I called him for an interview, I offered to meet him halfway, but he felt as though it was important to come to the area that he might be covering. He came early and spent some time walking around several of our towns then ate lunch in a locally-owned restaurant, all in an effort to get a feel for the county.

When we sat down to talk, he and I shared similar views on the goals of the newspaper and agreed on some changes that need to be made and on some aspects that should stay the same. I liked him immediately and I think you will, too.

Even though he’s not on the payroll yet, Chris is already working here – in a sense. Below, you will find a column he’s already written just to introduce himself to the community. I really like that kind of personal accountability. It bodes well, don’t you think?

He’s also keeping up with our goings-on by checking our website, offering a few comments here and there regarding our content. I really like that kind of initiative. It also bodes well, don’t you think?

Chris will start here at the Local in mid-May, so you’ll have to put up with me for just a little bit longer as the fill-in. Of course, I love it here, and I hope that Chris will foster a love of this community as well.

It looks like he’s already moving in that direction. Please join me in making him feel welcome here.