BOWMAN—Chris and Jessica Slone moved from Kentucky to Bowman right after Christmas. They were coming home from Hettinger on the day it was declared the "coldest place on the planet."
"We decided it couldn't get any worse, and the first thing we bought was a block heater," said Chris Slone, who had accepted the job as Country Media Inc. regional publisher.
Just as the temperature was beyond cold in January, the reception by Bowman citizens was extra warm.
"The greeting was tremendous," he said. "Everybody was extremely nice. People everywhere knew I was coming and asked if needed anything—it was more than we could ask for."
Slone immersed into his job as publisher of the Fallon County Times, the Bowman County Pioneer, Dunn County Herald, Adams County Record and The Herald (New England.) Jessica is a nurse practitioner specializes in neurology at Southwest Healthcare Services.
He grew up in Flatwoods, Ky.—22 hours away from here, and earned an associate degree in information technology from Ashland Community College. He was a volunteer football coach at Kentucky Christian University, but he was spending hours on the road for games and needed a four-year degree to get a salary. He decided to pursue a different career.
"I could see myself writing and looked into the journalism program at Morehead State University."
With the support of Jessicia, they moved to Morehead, Ky., and he graduated in 2011. He worked as a news reporter for a few months before becoming sports editor of the Portsmouth Daily Times in Ohio. Five years later, he transitioned to interim editor and then editor. At that point, he accepted the position of publisher for Country Media Inc.
"We didn't see Bowman until we moved here," he said.
The first thing Slone did as publisher was to go around town and visit with people.
"I asked the same question—what was missing from the paper, what would they like to see. I got great feedback, whether it was more about the kids, more news, more opinion. I took all their different ideas. It's a slow process, and by no means, do we have everything I want to accomplish."
Slone appreciates the support of the staff and communities.
"Essentially, I wear many hats. I write, I work with advertisers, I travel to the other papers quite a bit," he said. "We have a great staff—I help out to make sure they don't need anything."
He said the writers are energetic and desire to cover everything.
"One thing I've learned is you can really flourish with a great staff," he said. "I don't feel like I need to go to every community and write every story. I can focus on Bowman and people of Adams County. The staff usually presents ideas to me... sometimes they will come to me and ask what I think."
Slone has identified kind of stories people like to read.
"People really love to see the kids, and a lot of people love to see more religious-type stories, which has given me some ideas I'm currently working on," he said. "The parents help out—they send me quotes and send me stories. They have been a tremendous help."
Referencing the design of the papers, Slone added, "The only thing we changed were the Bowman County and Adams County Record front-page design—we changed the headlines and font styles of those," he said.
He plans to keep the poll question of the week in the Herald, Bowman County Pioneer and Adams County Record.
"It's in every week... if I can think of a question," he said.
The job responsibilities vary each day. He's writing stories Mondays and Tuesdays and the printing is done on Wednesdays at The Dickinson Press.
"The other days, I'm usually out in the community," he said.
The move to Bowman has been a good one.
"This is my first time as publisher, which I never imagined seven years ago. I've loved every aspect of it. I love to get to know people you wouldn't otherwise meet."