By Dennis K. Brown, Vanceburg, Kentucky
State of Newspapers Exclusive
I have the best job in Lewis County.
I tell people that frequently. I think that to myself every day.
I’m the publisher of The Lewis County Herald in Vanceburg, Kentucky.
The Herald was established in 1924 when some community members pitched in and purchased the assets of The Vanceburg Sun. I became involved with my hometown paper about 1985 when we still bought wax by the case and clipart by the book.
We are the only newspaper published in this rural Northeastern Kentucky county bordered on the north by the Ohio River.
The county population is about 13,000 and the county seat of Vanceburg is home to about 1,500. The City of Concord, the only other city in Lewis County, is the smallest city in Kentucky with 25 or so residents.
The Herald’s circulation is about 3,500 each week. Copies are for sale at nearly every retail business in the county and we mail a good number to subscribers, many of whom have long since moved away to find employment.
I have three dedicated employees and Tammy, my wife, who is invaluable in making sure I keep all the appointments I have scribbled on my calendar.
The marks on that schedule indicate the regular meetings of the board of education, fiscal court, utility board and others. There are a few mornings set aside to follow some of the more serious cases making their way through circuit court.
I’m currently keeping tabs on a murder case, multiple child sexual abuse cases, an official charged with a criminal offense, and some school officials charged in connection with illegal drug activities.
Our local and state educators have made national headlines with their rallies to keep their pensions funded.
About once a month I travel somewhere in our beautiful Commonwealth to meet with other board members of the Kentucky Press Association to discuss attempts by our state legislature to remove public notice advertising from newspapers or help plan our 150th anniversary celebration.
There is nearly always a police scanner within earshot to keep me apprised of serious traffic accidents, house fires and bear sightings.
If I travel to the scene of a car crash or fire, I know the names of the deputies and firefighters. Many times I know the victims and their families.
I always have a camera with me and I fill a 3X5 inch pocket notepad with reminders, names, numbers and other information about three times a month. I still have every one of them.
I write most of the obits and sweep the sidewalk in front of our Main Street office. When my cell phone rings it could be a subscriber who didn’t get their paper in the mail or our congressional representative in DC.
A local 911 dispatcher contacted me this week to ask if I would her send some photos of local first responders in action. I only had to look back over the past few months to find 30 photos I had taken at scenes of fatal accidents, house fires, LEO funerals and felony suspect arrests.
These things that happen in every community and the members of those communities are interested in reading about the things happening in their neighborhood and with their neighbors.
There’s plenty of good news in our community and it’s reported too. The first graders that recognize 1,000 sight words and the community organization that builds affordable homes for families and sets up payments to meet what those families can afford.
Community newspapers provide a valuable service to those they serve.
I have a feeling we’ll be around for a while.