By Lisa Whaley
This past week, I drove into the Valley Beautiful for the first time as a member of The Erwin Record, an award-winning weekly newspaper that has long been adept at capturing the warmth and wonder of the communities of Unicoi County.
I’d been here before, thanks to my husband’s deep ties – to family reunions at Fishery Park and along county backroads as he revisited the sites of old family homesteads and the creeks his father remembered fishing as a boy.
We’ve eaten at Choo Choo’s Café, Clarence’s and the Hawg ‘n’ Dawg. We’ve shopped for antiques and picked up pieces to add to my Blue Ridge Pottery Collection.
But that was always as a visitor. Today, I am a new representative of the Erwin Record and – I have to be honest – more than a little in awe of my task.
Since 1928, this paper has been a beacon for Unicoi County and surrounding regions. It has provided an ongoing record of Erwin’s challenges and its successes. It has captured in detailed snapshots a never-ending collection of individuals who made differences — both small and large —— throughout the county.
At each juncture in this journey, a different set of faces has steered this publication. But though their names may have changed over time, their purpose has never wavered – to provide a clear, fair and accurate account of the comings and goings of Unicoi County, all while giving voice to its people and memorializing the warmth and the wisdom of its people.
Damaris Higgins in advertising, Kathy Carmichael in circulation, Keeli Parkey as managing editor and Brad Hicks as staff writer, have already proven their commitment again and again to Erwin Record readers. Keith Whitson left a legacy of hard work, compassion and graciousness that will be impossible to beat.
I promise to give everything I have to add my name to that list as a faithful representative of this newspaper and this community, and pledge that I — along with our talented, dedicated staff — will continue to be a voice for Erwin and an accurate diary of life here.
In this oh-so challenging era for newspapers everywhere, it is going to take all of us to keep The Erwin Record, a multi-year winner in General Excellence Award with the Tennessee Press Association, as strong as it needs to be.
It will involve more hard work from all of us, but I guarantee you, it will be worth it. More media experts are coming to see weekly community newspapers like The Erwin Record as the future of the newspaper industry.
And for a town like Erwin, a weekly newspaper provides a powerful voice that continues to draw this community together.
Thanks to this community, the hard work of Erwin Record staff, and the vision and commitment of its publishers, The Erwin Record will continue to be one of the best newspapers in the region.