North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

January 3, 2013

Robert Carter: It’s a new year, with a pair of new schools for the NJN

By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News

COMMENTARY — Welcome to the year 2013, for better or worse — let’s hope considerably better.

And with the new year comes something new for the sports pages of The North Jefferson News.

A couple of eagle-eyed folks have noticed that we have started to cover a couple of high schools that they had not seen before here, at least on a regular basis. One new school is with us because they were in the middle of a news coverage black hole. For the other, the question is, “Why haven’t we been covering them all along?”

That one would be Pinson Valley, home of the Indians. I’m told by some of our older subscribers that Pinson was regularly covered by The NJN in the paper’s early days, but that has evidently been a while.

When I was considering this expansion a few weeks ago, I fired up Google’s mapping website and checked to see how close the Indians’ home base was to ours, relative to the other “Original Six” teams we cover.

It turns out that, with all the new high school facilities that have been built in our area in the past few years, Pinson is actually closer to our office than three of the six. Gardendale is a stone’s throw away, all of three blocks. Fultondale is next closest, followed by Tabernacle Christian.

The comes Pinson, followed by Mortimer Jordan at its new campus (about a quarter mile farther than PV), Corner and Hayden. Corner used to be farther than Hayden until they moved; that’s why we’ve covered for years even though they are a Blount County School, plus the fact that no other news outlet was covering the Wildcats as well.

And that leads us to our other new addition, Locust Fork. They’re just a smidge farther away than Hayden, but faced the same issue — no other paper was following the Hornets on a regular basis.

We didn’t realize that we noticed the reaction whenever we’d cover a game in which the Hornets played one of our original teams. We kept getting emails, Facebook messages and the occasional phone call thanking us for the coverage of their team. We then found out the school’s dilemma, and decided to add Locust Fork into our fold.

It’s a good pickup for us, because the Hornets are fielding some pretty strong basketball teams this season. The boys and girls teams are each ranked 10th in the ASWA Class 4A basketball rankings at the moment. Additionally, Locust Fork is the home of Geoffrey Bramblett, one of the top prep baseball pitchers in the state; he’s committed to play his college ball at Alabama.

In my little exercise in geographic investigation, I also discovered that two other schools which we don’t presently cover as our local schools are even closer ot us than Pinson, since they both moved to new facilities. Center Point — the school formerly known as Erwin — is now located behind the Jeff State campus, and we pass by it every time we go see the Indians or Hornets play at home. Closer still is the new Tarrant campus; it’s barely half a mile farther from my office than Fultondale High. We aren’t including those two schools in our local coverage area right now — but we’re keeping our options open.

So with newspapers all over — and particularly in our own area — cutting back on coverage, why should the NJN expand?

It’s a simple principle: Grow, or die. We’d rather grow.

Welcome to our little family, Indians and Hornets fans. Keep checking us out on our website and Facebook page. Or call my boss Danielle, once she gets back from her honeymoon, at 631-8716 to get fixed up with a subscription to our print edition.

It’s good to be part of your community.