January 2, 2013 will be the first day of my 20th year working in newspapers. I started January 2, 1986, and if you count up from there, it should be 27 years, but in 2001 I decided to try my hand working for the government in Henry County, and I did that for seven years before getting back into newspapers.
For 16 of the years I’ve been in newspapers, I’ve been the Editor at five different papers, including The Thomaston Times. For nine of those 16 years, I was the only one I trusted to be able to get the newspaper out on time, looking good, and filled with timely stories and photos.
At my first paper, The Henry Herald, my publisher was also an old editor, and he taught me a lot of what I know, so I had faith that if I was out on vacation or for any other reason, he would get the paper out without a problem.
At the next three papers – the Jackson Progress-Argus, the Henry County Record, and the Henry County Times, I scheduled my vacations around the due dates for the papers, just so I would be there to lay the paper out and get the stories and photos in. I’m too much of a perfectionist, and I just didn’t have anyone at those papers that I trusted well enough to be able to step in and do the job if I wasn’t there.
Then I came to The Thomaston Times and met Ashley Biles. Ashley had been here less than a year when I arrived, and this was her first newspaper job. And she learned the job under ‘trial by fire.’ Ashley started in May 2009, and the editor here died in July 2009. From then until I came in January 2010, Ashley was both reporter and editor, writing the stories, taking the photographs, and laying out the pages. Wes and the rest of the staff helped where they could, but the burden fell on Ashley’s shoulders, and she handled it well.
That’s why a few months after I started and found out all that she had done, and was doing to help me, I went to Roland and told him she needed to be promoted. He suggested Assistant Editor, but I said I wanted her to be my Associate Editor, because I knew she could do my job equally as well as I could.
My faith in her bore fruit last week. Wednesday morning, Becky and I had to take care of some issues in Butts County. Wednesday afternoon, we were headed home when Becky got a call that her brother had had a massive heart attack and was at Gwinnett Medical Center. We immediately headed up there. Knowing I would not make it back in for the rest of the day, I called Ashley and we talked about what would go in the paper Friday. I had not had time to write up any of my stories, but Ashley came through and had enough for us to get a paper out, and took care of getting everything ready. Thursday morning I did get in long enough to get the paper out, but I knew that if I hadn’t been able to come in, that Ashley could have handled it without a problem.
I’m thankful I’ve got a co-pilot like Ashley, who is ready to step in and take over at a moment’s notice, without qualms. You, our readers, should also be thankful she’s here, because without her, we would not be the quality newspaper you deserve.