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Atmore has produced another winner

By By Robert Blankenship
Advance Managing Editor
With just a few weeks under my belt as a staff member of The Advance, I have to say that I am continuously impressed with this operation. Whether or not our readers know it, this newspaper is among the best of any other paper its size in the state and it proved it this weekend at the Alabama Associated Press Awards where it brought home 17 different awards.
I can say all of this without bragging because I wasn't here and had nothing to do with it. However, everyone else at The Advance deserves a pat on the back for what they have accomplished.
Printing an award-winning newspaper is not easy. There is an awful lot of competition out there and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to keep up-much less excel above it. But, that is exactly what these folks have done.
In all, The Atmore Advance brought home 17 awards from last weekend's award ceremony. That included first place finishes in Locally Generated News Coverage, Local Economic Coverage, Best Editorial Page, Best Feature Story, Best Sports Photo and, the most important of all, General Excellence. That is not to mention a variety of second and third place finishes for both editorial and advertising content.
Even though I have not been around very long, I do know one thing: there is no way this newspaper could have done it without the support and contributions of the community.
One of the things that has impressed me the most since coming here is the relationship between the newspaper and the citizens that call Atmore home. Just take a look below this column. I never dreamed that the Letters to the Editor section would require so much space. That is fantastic because only through dialog can things get done and our newspaper is the single most important vessel through which communication can begin on issues from local politics to sports. And, though it may sound sappy, communication is the key to all problems.
Have you ever heard a secretary of state come home from one of the world's hot spots and say something to the affect of peace talks have failed'. Well, that probably is not accurate. The truth is talking never took place. One probably wouldn't speak and the other wouldn't listen so they decided to go home.
But, it is nice to know that we do not have that problem here. We can take criticism and learn from it; we can take a pat on the back and be inspired to do even better. Either way, we welcome input on all issues through our letters to the editor. We have an open letters policy which means we will print any letter of local interest that has a signature and a phone number on it that is not libelous. Though we may edit for spelling or grammar, we will never change the basic content of the letter.
The editorial page is not the only way that citizens have to be heard. Every publication and every article in our paper is about someone who lives here. We rely heavily on public officials, business owners, educators, volunteers, family members and all sorts of other labels that are given to our neighbors who help us put this newspaper together. It's their stories that are in the paper, not the person's whose name appears at the beginning of the article.
You do not even have to write or be interviewed to take an active role in your newspaper. The Advance welcomes your suggestions on what you would like to see in the paper. Perhaps there is a story you would like to share with other readers. Or, perhaps you know someone with a talent or skill that is unique and would make an interesting article. No matter what your suggestion is, we will always listen.
With your continued support and input we will build a tradition of producing an award-winning paper year after year. Without it, we are nothing more than kindlin.
So, congratulations Atmore, you have put together a winner.