Moving north….moving home

Published 10:44 am Monday, December 19, 2011

My wife, Debbie, and I recently had an opportunity to make a move north to Ahoskie from Bainbridge, GA. We came up a couple of times and visited the News Herald.  The first visit was somewhat of a covert mission. We were did not want anyone to assume we were moving here until we were officially offered the job and until we were sure Ahoskie was the place for us.

I was lucky, I had more insight about the area than most candidates for this job. I was fortunate to work with Jeff Findley, former Publisher of the News Herald.  Jeff had talked about Ahoskie and how he loved the staff and the people of the area. He or I never give it second thought about the possibility of my coming here.

One of my first statements to Jeff when he arrived in Bainbridge was that I would never move north of the Decatur County line. My mind was made up if I were offered a publisher’s position I would go south. However, there was just one small problem with that line of thought. The Post-Searchlight was the southernmost paper that Boone Newspapers Incorporated owned. Unless BNI bought some newspaper in Florida I was stranded.

To be perfectly honest, I figured I would retire with the newspaper in Bainbridge. Heck, I had been there fifteen years, no time to change now….right, wrong.

When BNI purchased The Post-Searchlight it opened up some opportunities that I had not had before. The Post-Searchlight had been family owned for over 105 years. I was as high as I could go unless I found some “Griffin blood” somewhere in my past.

On our second trip to Ahoskie we were much more open about our possible move north. We already knew we liked the staff here plus we found Ahoskie was very much like home…a small agricultural city that grew peanuts, cotton and corn. Tobacco was not grown in Decatur County, but I had grown up in Tifton Georgia about 85 miles north. Tobacco was king in that area and I worked every summer in the tobacco fields, cropping, hanging, or any other job my boss wanted me to do.  Looking back I was taught some wonderful values and work ethics in those old tobacco fields.

Debbie and I only arrived in Ahoskie a little over a week ago and we have had the opportunity to meet some of the nicest and most welcoming people here. We both look forward to becoming part of the area and look to giving back to the community. We look ahead to meeting each and every one.

The first people we met here were Dee and John Fritz, of the Jernigan House. Not only was this a gorgeous and beautiful antebellum home with great amenities, but  Dee made some the most fabulous breakfasts we ever had the pleasure of tempting our taste buds with. Let me tell you Dee is quite the ambassador for Ahoskie. Over our unbelievable breakfasts she painted a beautiful canvas of what life would be like here.  So far she is right. Moving north to Ahoskie was like moving home.


Joe Cowart is Publisher of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7218.