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Gutknecht: Closing a chapter does not end the story

One month before being brought on with The Covington News, I met with then-General Manager Hosanna Fletcher for coffee. Having given the “Thanks but no thanks” to two other employment opportunities with The Covington News, Hosanna asked to pick my brain.

At that time, I was working for the Lake Oconee News in Greensboro and I had recently received a promotion to a position I was in love with. I had no intentions on leaving.

After meeting with Hosanna, I had completely bought in to what she was trying to create with The Covington News. With no newspaper background, Hosanna had a special way of putting the community back into a community newspaper, and that was something I could completely get behind. I left that meeting with a job offer that I could not turn down.

The day I signed my offer letter and returned it to Hosanna, she called to tell me that the sports editor had turned in a resignation letter but she had a plan to fill the position.

Two weeks later, after saying my goodbyes in Greensboro, I walked into our Usher Street office and began a journey in Covington that I never could have imagined. What I didn’t know at the time, was a new sports editor had started with the paper four days earlier.

Gabriel Stovall was not in the office on my first day. Due to prior commitments, his first week on the job was a little scattered, but when we first got the chance to meet I knew Covington was in good hands.

Since that day, I’ve had the pleasure to watch as Gabriel has taken complete ownership of The Covington News sports section.

The change that has come to our sports section is a night and day difference. Gabriel, and the rest of the sports team, has created content that no community newspaper of our size should be able to do.

The bar has been raised.

When Gabriel came here, sports was not something that the local newspapers really cared much about covering. Now, it is something this community can’t do without.

While Gabriel is closing the chapter on his time in Covington, I don’t want you to get discouraged. The story is not over. The Covington News sports section is still going to be as strong as ever because of the work he has put in.

This week we have made the introduction of our new full-time sports hire Michael Pope, but that shouldn’t be much of an introduction to you at all. Michael has worked alongside Gabriel for a while now and if you don’t recognize his name from the bylines of our newspaper, you probably just know him as lifelong resident of Newton County.

I am excited to see how Michael takes ownership of the sports coverage of his hometown and continues to build a product that our readers have grown accustomed to. He understands and fully embraces the challenge ahead and I hope you will join me in welcoming him into your home each and every day.

Jackie Gutknecht is the editor and publisher of The Covington News. Her email is Twitter: @jackieg1991