Homer, Georgia

SPECIAL FEATURE

December 2, 1998


The News began in 1968

FORMER HOME FOR BCN

This is one of the former locations for The Banks County News which was formed in Homer in 1968. This building was located on Hwy. 441 in downtown homer. The office is now located in the former Ralph Bridges barber shop on Hwy. 441.


The Banks County News formed 30 years ago

The Banks County News was launched Dec. 4, 1968, by The Jackson Herald Inc., owned by the Herman Buffington family.

Mrs. Nancy Chambers, a former Banks County ordinary (probate judge), became The News' first editor. In 1978, she wrote this about the founding of The Banks County News:

"For a hundred years or more, Banks County had become accustomed to a weekly newspaper. When we suddenly were without this enterprise, we were at a great loss to know which way to turn for a legal organ. We met Herman Buffington, publisher of The Jackson Herald.

"On learning his personality and approving his great paper, Clerk of Banks County Robert Payne, Sheriff M.L. Harrison and I, as ordinary, decided after much discussion, to use his paper for our legal organ. We had to go to court as there was some opposition."

"After we accomplished this, we were still hungry for our own paper so we soon started talking to Herman about a Banks County paper. We finally convinced him of our needs and desires so we started printing a little Banks County news free. He continued this practice until in December 1968 when he launched on a new career and so did I, as I was retiring from the ordinary's office. When he needed help, I was available. Jan. 1, 1969, I found myself editor and advertising manager of The Banks County News."

As Mrs. Chambers indicated, even before starting The Banks County News, The Jackson Herald had carried some news of Banks County within its own pages.

During the first six months of The News' existence, it was a four-page tabloid size (11"X17") newspaper run off of The Herald's job press. It was distributed under a third-class permit as a free newspaper.

The newspaper then became a "broadsheet" (large) size, albeit only a two-page one. The small-sized newspaper had offended some Banks Countians who felt they should have a "big" newspaper and so Buffington produced a two-sided broadsheet.

By September of 1969, The Banks County News had obtained a second-class mailing permit, the usual class for newspapers which have a paid circulation.

It was in 1970 that The Banks County News and The Jackson Herald joined hands to become essentially the same newspaper but with each retaining its own front page and its own mailing list. News from both counties was put in both newspapers.

This combination continued for some 17 years until The News became a completely separate publication in July 1987. At that time, The Herald purchased The Commerce News, which had published the older Banks County Journal. The Journal's name was tied up by other ownership and so the decision was made to merge the two papers under the name of The Banks County News.

At first, The News had had no "home" other than the downtown Homer residence of Mrs. Chambers. That was remedied in April 1970 when The News opened an office in the old bank building which Mrs. Chambers owned on Hwy. 441 in Homer. The former Ralph Bridges barber shop building was purchased by The Herald and remodeled to serve the publication.

Mrs. Chambers continued as editor/advertising director until her untimely death on Oct. 13, 1985, at the age of 82. The beloved editor was killed while crossing the highway near her home.

Brenda Williams, a Herald employee who lived in Banks County and who had been assisting Mrs. Chambers, continued as news editor.

When Mrs. Williams left the firm in 1992, Sherry Lewis of Maysville became news editor. Angela Gary was named editor in 1996.

Numerous other people have worked in various capacities over the years in helping present the news of Banks County. Among those in the early years were: Mrs. Lizzie Griffin, who wrote "Here 'N There," a social column about Banks Countians; Mrs. Avery Arnold, mother of the present Maysville correspondent, who wrote the Maysville socials; and Mrs. O.L. Bruce, who wrote "Looking Out From Moccasin Gap."

The News was fortunate to obtain the services of the long-time Banks County Journal editor, Deedie Turner, in 1987 when The Journal publication was folded into The News. She served as The News' part-time receptionist for several years.


Remembering 'Miss Nanny'

BY BRENDA WILLIAMS

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was first printed in The Banks County News on Oct. 16, 1985, following the death of Nancy Chambers. 'Miss Nanny' was an integral part of The News until her death. She led the effort to bring the paper to Banks County and served as its editor until her death. She was featured in many state and national publications including an article, "Telling tales of Homer: One woman runs lively newspaper," in a 1984 issue of The Atlanta Journal).

It didn't happen in her familiar 1955 green pickup that was pretty much known as her "trademark."

But the tragedy did occur in a familiar path that she had traveled so many times before. "Miss Nanny" was carrying her flower arrangement to the church early Saturday night. This was her ritual. It had been her pleasure for many years to supply a floral arrangement for Sunday morning church service at the Homer Presbyterian Church, located across Hwy. 441 from her home. Sometimes she would set her clock for 6 a.m. Sunday to fix the arrangement or sometimes she would get it together on Saturday night. But always she would have a live arrangement of her flowers or maybe a neighbor's flowers to inspire the services.

She left the keys in her house, thinking she would be returning in a matter of minutes. With flower vase in hand, she started across the road to the church. But she never got there. While attempting to cross the highway, the 82-year-old legend of Banks County was struck by a vehicle and died a few hours later. She died in an act of serving her church.

"Miss Nanny" was loyal to her church but perhaps no more loyal to it than she was to all of the other churches in Banks County. There is probably not a church in Banks County that she had not attended either for singing services, funerals or on other occasions. She could list all the churches in the county and it was her belief that the churches were the backbone of the county to which she was so strongly dedicated.

As a co-worker of hers for the past eight years, I have been inspired so many times by her and by her knowledge of the rich history of the county. I am sorry now that I didn't pay closer attention. It was such an honor to work so closely with her in the "newspaper world" which had been a part of her life since 1968. She loved her church, her family, her county, her friends and her newspaper.

The Banks County News is known as "Miss Nanny's paper." If someone wasn't familiar with the official name of the paper, he knew what you were talking about when you said "Miss Nanny's paper." She would travel many miles just to take a picture for her paper. If it was important to the person or group who asked for the picture to be made, it was important to her.

Mrs. Chambers was a member of almost every civic organization in the county, but the Banks County Chamber of Commerce, which she helped organize, was her pet. Through the Chamber of Commerce, she was the mother of the annual Holiday Festival in Homer. It was an event she looked forward to and planned for just about every day of the year. If any visitors came by the office who were not from the county, she would remind them of the festival during the Labor Day weekend and of the Sunday School Celebration held each year. She has been the inspiration of the Celebration which otherwise might have gone under in past years.

She was never one to claim glory for anything she helped make a success. She was satisfied to merely sit back and be content that it was a success and be ready to move on.

The happiness and well-being of the youth was very important to this lady. She was raised as an orphan and has never taken for granted a carefree life. In anything she pursued, the happiness of children and a better life for them was at its core. She was never bitter about anything, however, and just knew that whatever came her way, she could handle.

There will definitely be an empty space at The News office that can never be filled, but "Miss Nanny's" dedication and inspiration to the newspaper and her community will always remain.


How The Journal began
From The Jackson Herald, April 23, 1897

"Dr. W.B. Hardman, editor of the Harmony Grove Echo-Gazette, has developed quite a fondness for newspapers, or else he thinks they are quite a remunerative investment, for he now owns two newspapers. Some time ago, Dr. Hardman bought the Banks County Gazette and consolidated it with the Echo at Harmony Grove. The Gazette was published at Homer and had the legal advertisements of Banks County. So the legal ads went along with the sale of the Gazette, provided no other paper was established in Banks County. Hardly had the Gazette changed hands before a little paper over at Baldwin moved into Banks and claimed the legal ads. Now in order not to lose the county work, Dr. Hardman has established a newspaper at Homer called the Banks County Journal with M.C. Sanders as editor and the Journal has the legal ads. The Journal is a well-printed, clean paper and Milton S. will make it hum.

"Occasionally, a fellow will come in and want you to give him a 'puff' and if you don't do it, he will swear he will stop the paper but don't feel discouraged. Again, another will come in and want to give you a licking for some offense you have given, but just keep your old British bulldog near by and you won't get hurt."


The Banks County News
December 2, 1998
Column by Angela Gary

'What if...you were editor?'

It was one those "What if" questions that leads to major life changes.

My boss casually asked me one afternoon "What if you were editor of The Banks County News...What would you do?"

I thought he just needed input on improving the paper. We are always striving to improve the papers and making changes is part of it. It was around the first of the year which is a good time to make some changes.

I made a list of things I thought the paper needed. Things like coverage of the outlying areas-Alto, Lula and Baldwin and organized sections with school news all together, social news together and so on. I thought middle school and junior varsity sports needed more coverage. I believed more features would be a good move.

In the blink of an eye, I was named the new editor of The Banks County News. It was scary and exciting then and it is still that today. It is challenging to organize a weekly paper, but it is scary to be the one "in charge" who gets blamed when things go wrong. It's exciting to be on the front row while news is happening, but it is scary to have reporters looking to you for guidance.

Being editor of a weekly newspaper had long been a goal of mine, but I don't think I really knew what it meant. In 1985, I wrote in my senior memory book that in 10 years I wanted to be editor of a weekly newspaper in north Georgia. In a little over 10 years, I got that wish, along with more headaches, tears and joy than I ever knew I would experience.

Writing and newspapers is something that has always been a part of my life. On my 10th birthday, I received a typewriter as a gift from my parents. This would be the starting point for my career.

I taught myself to type and started up my own newspaper. I went door-to-door in the neighborhood to gather the news, I typed it and I delivered the finished product to family and friends. My parents didn't encourage this; I came up with the idea all on my own. But they supported me then as they do today as I still work in this time-consuming and stressful career. They don't always understand why I work in a job that sometimes has me at meetings every night of the week (some lasting until most people are already home in bed), but they always support me and defend my honor when people don't agree with what I write. My dad always says, "It's the truth, isn't it? What's the problem?"

I remember these words of wisdom when people call to fuss about the coverage of a meeting. As long as we are writing "the truth," we are doing our job. It may not be pretty, but we are here to provide the history of our county-the good and the bad.

And it hasn't been all complaints. There has been plenty of praise over the years. The thoughtful people who call and thank us for what we do make it all worth while. It has also been rewarding to bring home to Banks County over 30 state and national newspaper awards over the past two years. Looking back over the past two years, I'm glad I got that "What if..." question from my boss. It has changed my life and brought me plenty of challenges.

Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald.


The Banks County News
December 2, 1998
Editorial

BCN celebrates 30th birthday
It was 30 years ago this week that The Banks County News first began publication. A 30th birthday is a milestone for many people. Gone are the carefree days of youth with middle age looming ahead. Here at The Banks County News, the three-decade marker is also a milestone for us.

We pledge to continue to serve Banks Countians with a newspaper filled with news about what they are doing-in the schools, in the churches, in the government and in all areas of life.

This newspaper was formed to give Banks County people a voice and a forum for their news. It is still the only place to read all about what is going on in Banks County from the small events to the big stuff.

The Banks County News has changed a lot since those early days when it was printed on a tabloid format. It is now a broadsheet newspaper and often has more than 30 pages each week full of news about this county.

The past couple of years have been ones of great change for the paper. The first color photographs appeared on our pages and all of the page layout was moved to computers. We now cover all areas of our county from Homer to Lula to Alto to Baldwin to Maysville.

But one thing has remained constant over the past three decades. The News is still put together by people dedicated to giving Banks Countians the best coverage possible. From the early days when Nancy Chambers worked tirelessly on "her paper" until today, the number one priority of this paper has been to serve the readers first. We pledge to continue to do this.

More changes are ahead as we continue to put the readers of Banks County first and foremost in our efforts. We welcome your input on your hometown newspaper-The Banks County News.


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