Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” For anyone that really knows me, they know that my life-long dream has been to have my own newspaper. Sharing news and writing are my passions. And they have been since Betty Sherrer gave me a pencil and notebook with the task of filling all of those blank pages with my own words. She opened up a whole new world for me – an outlet to channel my thoughts and a new way for a shy sixth-grader to express myself. I fell in love with words and how they make stories come to life.
And then came Molly Howard. She gave me a chance as a teenager to have my first byline. It was a small assignment, nothing more than weekly updates of summer rec ball. But, it fueled a passion that has never dwindled. Molly was one of the most remarkable women I could ever have the pleasure of knowing. She was my hero as that young girl. She was strong, independent, a trailblazer. In a time when there were few women entrepreneurs, she was running Blount County’s oldest and strongest business, The Southern Democrat. I saw what she was doing and accomplishing, and even at a young age, I knew how big of a deal that was.
Thankfully, I have parents who always taught me to dream big and that there wasn’t anything in this world that I couldn’t do. So I dreamed big. I dreamed of being a Molly Howard one day. And today, here I am, finally fulfilling that dream, living out my love and my passion.
To all of those from my family and my forever friends who have encouraged me along the way, thank you. To this army of people who I am fortunate enough to have in my life, you will never know the impact you’ve had on my life. You have always believed in me and helped me believe in myself. You have pushed me to always keep moving onward and upward. You have never discouraged and have always been by my side. It is through your love, support and faith in me that I have had the courage to pursue this dream and to make this dream a reality.
I also have to thank a very special lady that I had the privilege of meeting for the very first time last week. Patsy Britt is a remarkable woman with a lifetime of memories of her cousin, Molly. Meeting her was an honor, and I will forever be grateful to her for the opportunity she has given me and the trust she has placed in me to continue the legacy that her family started in the late 1800s. I will work each and every day to build on the strong foundation of the Howard family that continued under the leadership of Rob Rice.
Over the years, Molly and Rob have put together the most amazing staff. And I am truly blessed that I now have the opportunity to work with them as we start on a new chapter for The Blount Countian. These women and men share an incredible passion for writing, community, and reporting. They’ve worked tirelessly over the past several months to keep the tradition alive. So thank you to Melanie, Jenna, Ginger, Ron, Cheryl, Roger, Jim, Jessica, Joey, and Rickey. Don’t think all of your efforts have gone unnoticed. And know how extremely excited I am to have each of you on this team.
A local paper is an integral part of a community, not just as an outlet of sharing the happenings of local governments, but as a way to share the stories of people, places, and things that make Blount County such a special place to call home. I look forward to sharing more and more of those stories while meeting more and more amazing people.
The Blount Countian holds a special place in the hearts of many throughout Blount County. It captured mine long ago, and started me on a journey that has led me here. So to all of those who have a dream, don’t give up. Always be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.