COLUMN: Thank you, Shelby County, for 5 great years

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

Friday, Jan. 31 marks my last day of employment with Shelby County Newspapers, Inc. and what a ride it has been these last five years.

This is a tough column to write because my coworkers at Shelby County, the people of Shelby County and the great cities that make up Shelby County have meant so much to me the last few years.

I began working at the Shelby County Reporter on Sept. 11, 2014 which of course is a date I can easily remember. This was my first full-time job after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Auburn University and I’ll forever be grateful that Shelby County gave me my first true opportunity.

Now that I’ve had some time to sit back and reflect, I’m truly proud of what I, along with our great team here at Shelby County, have been able to accomplish these last five years.

For starters, every year we have been awarded the General Excellence award from the Alabama Press Association, which is considered one of the top honors a publication can receive.

In addition, I helped provide the content when the Helena Reporter launched in April 2015, which has been the majority of my workload these last few years.

When I first started covering Helena I didn’t know anyone from the area, but as the years passed, I felt like I became close-knit in the community and truly enjoyed my time there.

I covered more stories than I can count, but some of my favorite moments were covering the run to state championships for various teams at Helena High School and providing stories and coverage no one else could.

With the school beginning in the fall of 2014, I felt like I’ve almost been at the school from the start. I’ll never forget the amazing baseball series between Helena and Cullman that ended in the Huskies hoisting the state championship trophy for the first time in 2017. Other moments include covering a soccer state championship, numerous postseason basketball games and titles, the rising success of the Helena football program and more.

Besides sports, some of my favorite stories also came within the community, as I was able to write so many interesting Profile stories, numerous human-interest stories, cover new business openings and more.

My next move is to become a staff writer with the Alex City Outlook. I will be doing much of what I do now, just in a different part of the state. I am excited for the new challenge, but I will no doubt miss covering Shelby County.

For all of our readers, I want to say thank you for caring about local community news because I believe it is vital to share this coverage with you.

If I ever had the chance to interact with you for a story, I also want to say thank you, because you’re the reason I was able to provide these stories over the years.

I believe the Shelby County Reporter is in great hands with the current staff writers, designers, classified consultants and more. I don’t think they’ll skip a beat without me, but they’ll no doubt always be special to me.