We salute Persons and all our heroes

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

We hope that our Citizen of the Year got a nice surprise this morning when he opened the newspaper to find himself on a special section cover.

Anyone who has met Forest Persons, the now-retired customer service manager for Entergy in Natchez, has to be impressed with his jovial personality and his willingness to serve his community.

As Natchez native and Mississippi Department of Transportation Director Larry L. &8220;Butch&8221; Brown said, &8220;Forest is the best public servant not elected that I know.&8221;

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We tend to forget, sometimes, that public servants are not just the people we vote for on election day. They are people like Forest Persons, who has served for so many years in a position that has done so much good for the Natchez community.

Mr. Persons has worked very hard to ensure the area&8217;s needs are met through Entergy grants.

But more than going above and beyond in his professional life, Mr. Persons has reached out in other ways, serving on a variety of boards and volunteering for numerous organizations in the area.

We salute our Citizen of the Year, along with all of the Unsung Heroes whose nominations we received over the past several weeks.

The Our Heroes section you find inside today&8217;s newspaper is normally the opening section of our Profile edition, published in February.

This year, though, we&8217;d like you to think of Our Heroes as a preview to Profile. Next month&8217;s section will not be a typical Profile section, our annual look at the people and places of our community.

This year, we have decided to reach far beyond Natchez into surrounding towns to boost our theme, &8220;Community Connections.&8221;

We are visiting small communities like Red Lick and Monterey, Waterproof and Fort Adams to find the stories that make up the Miss-Lou. We look forward to the finished product and hope you will as well.

Our newsroom staff is growing and changing as we begin this new year.

Our new addition is Julie Finley, a recent Ole Miss graduate and the only journalism student there to have served two years in a row as editor of The Daily Mississippian.

That experience gives Julie a great background in community newspapers. Here at The Democrat she will be covering education, Adams County and the police beat.

Another recent addition to our staff is photographer Molly Dempsey. Molly brings with our already talented photography staff a creative eye and a passion for photojournalism.

Meanwhile, we have moved Jessica Waldon, our former education reporter, to our Concordia Parish beat.

Jessica&8217;s enthusiasm is boundless, as many people on both sides of the river have found. We look forward to expanding our coverage of the parish during her tenure as Louisiana editor.

Don McCraine

, who has created a niche for our coverage of Amite and Wilkinson counties, continues to find unique stories in that area &8212; such as Friday&8217;s article about Woodville native and jazz great Lester &8220;Prez&8221; Young.

Meanwhile, visual editor

Ben Hillyer

and city editor

Nita McCann

continue to take on greater responsibilities &8212; with great success, while our sports staff of

Adam Daigle


Chuck Corder


Patrick Jones

works hard to cover so many schools and sports and make it look easy.


Joan Gandy

, our community editor, continues to be a guiding force for all of us.

I appreciate being able to lead such a dedicated, hard-working staff, and we all appreciate the opportunity to bring our readers a newspaper every day.

Kerry Whipple

is editor of The Democrat. She can be reached at 445-3541 or by e-mail at