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Charlotte Atkins: A fond farewell to a very special home
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“Home” is such a personal word and means different things to different folks. I have called many places home in my life, from the East Coast to the West Coast. All have been special and all have shaped me and my life’s journey.

When I relocated to Gainesville almost two years ago to become publisher of The Times media group, I knew it was a lovely place with a desirable quality of life. Little did I imagine how quickly it would become “home.” For it is here that I put down roots quickly and immersed myself in the community both personally and professionally. Having moved across the state from Rome where friends and colleagues reached out to counterparts here, I arrived to a red carpet welcome on many fronts that made my entrée into community life all the more easy.

It’s not hard to fall in love with North Georgia. What’s not to love? The scenic beauty of Lake Lanier and the mountains surrounds us and affords a beautiful quality of life with abundant outdoor opportunities. Education from pre-K to higher education, both public and private, are top-notch.

We are a health care mecca with leading-edge innovative care that ranks among the best in the country. Arts and culture are available for all to enjoy. And our many local churches provide fellowship and a faith home for all who seek sanctuary. Leadership here is thoughtful and unified on many fronts.

But what resonates most with me is the level of engagement of people in our community. When they see an issue that needs to be addressed, they seem to readily step up to help figure things out and participate in the solutions.

Collaboration is my favorite word and it abounds here. Here in North Georgia. Here in Gainesville-Hall County. Here at The Times.

We have a dedicated team of people at The Times who are committed to creating a network of news and information as well as advertising and marketing solutions for this community. They do it with intent and passion, realizing that the community newspaper still serves a vital purpose each day as a connecting point on vital issues and discussions.

As I wrap up my final week as publisher, I want our readers and community partners to know that The Times and our affiliated products, events and our sister media companies in North Georgia will continue to serve the region to the best of our ability. The Times will continue to be both community watchdog and as well as community cheerleader. We will continue to help local businesses grow and prosper. We will cover inspirational stories and the difficult truths that come to light and must be explained. We will remain a steadfast resource for all who seek enlightenment.

I continue to say “we” even as I plan to transfer far away for my new role as publisher of Morris Caribbean Publications. Because I will remain part of the Morris Multimedia family that owns The Times. And, perhaps more tellingly, I will remain connected in heart to this community and so many of you who will continue to call it home. I take with me friendships and connections that will endure long after I leave and that will keep me forever linked to this special place.

Lessie Smithgall, the 105-year-old co-founder of The Times and now dear friend, is fond of quoting the message on the dedication plaque at the entrance to our historic Green Street location. It was crafted by her beloved husband Charles and reads: “Guided by the constitutional principle of the public’s right to know, we dedicate this building to the continued enlightenment and freedom of the people of North Georgia.”

As The Times marches toward its 70th anniversary in 2017, rest assured that remains true all these many decades later and will continue to be for years to come. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve The Times and the community as publisher. I take North Georgia with me in my heart.

Charlotte Atkins is publisher of The Times.

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