The May 2 issue of the paper was Melissa O’Brien’s last as the news editor of the paper; she is, however, staying on as a freelance writer until after her daughter, Coco, graduates CCS in mid-June. She explains her reasons for leaving in her Accidental Pastor column.
During this, her second stint as editor (her first was in 2008), Melissa brought to the paper her own distinct voice and style as well as a variety of new voices—Katherine Arthaud, Joan Weed, Genevieve Trono and Helen Toor—to complement the voices of long-time contributors like Elizabeth Bassett, Edd Merritt and Bradley Carleton. She also interviewed and wrote regular stories profiling Charlotters, introduced broader coverage of town events and meetings—and started a Journalism Club at CCS to introduce young writers to writing for their hometown paper. She’s leaving us with a stronger paper than when she arrived, and for that we are deeply grateful.
The new news editor of the paper is Chea Waters Evans. Chea and her family moved to Charlotte when she was 11. She graduated from Charlotte Central School and Champlain Valley Union High School, then went to St. Lawrence University. After some years in Boston, marriage, a move to New York City, where she went to graduate school at City College of New York, and a stint in South Florida, she and her husband ended up back here in Charlotte.
Change is in the air for Chea and her family this year. In addition to becoming the 19th editor of the The Charlotte News, the oldest of her three sons is graduating from CCS, and she and her family just got a new puppy. Some things remain the same, though. “My mom lives in the same house where we grew up, and my best pals from CCS are still some of my closest friends.”
Chea’s undergraduate and graduate education concentrated on fiction writing, which, she says “is pretty funny, considering that the most important aspect of my job right now is getting the facts straight.”
“I’ve written for other local papers for the past eight years, and I’m just thrilled to be with The Charlotte News now. I’ve been reading it for over 30 years. And I welcome your input, whether you think I’m a genius or that I royally messed up. The former is always better, but the latter helps us grow, which is always the goal.”
The Philo Ridge fundraising event held on Sunday, May 5, brought in over $10,000 in donations, and after expenses we cleared over $7,000—all of which will be dedicated to hiring more writers to cover local news on assignment. Photos of the event, as well as our thanks to everyone who helped put it on, are on page 5.
Last year, readers of The News, when we asked them how we could specifically improve the paper, said they wanted more coverage of local events and people to complement the features and profiles that we regularly publish. We’ve already made some progress in doing just that, with Melissa’s regular profiles and interviews and Chea Evans’ and Juliann Phelps’ coverage of town meetings and issues. But we can do more. And with the continuing financial support of both our advertisers and donors, we plan to do just that.
The News board is finalizing a new strategic plan to guide us through the next several years. The plan sets a lofty goal: that within the next three years The Charlotte News is recognized as the best community newspaper in Vermont. By providing Charlotters with broader coverage of our community, while continuing to publish the wide range of feature stories and columns that distinguish us from other local community papers, we believe we can become the best community newspaper in the state.
We’ll keep you apprised of our progress.