I would like to express my deep gratitude to hundreds of Tribune readers, advertisers, columnists and supporters. This has been the most rewarding, as well as challenging, experience of my professional career.”Delton Blalock
Photo: Delton Blalock stands among Cullman Tribune issues dating back to the 1870s as he awaits his upcoming retirement.
CULLMAN – The Cullman Tribune has seen many historic milestones over the years and soon it will see yet another one; Delton Blalock, the newspaper’s owner and editor for the past 26 years, has announced his retirement. Blalock and his late wife Barbara purchased the Tribune from Wallace State Community College’s first president, Dr. Ben Johnson, on Jan.1, 1990. The historic newspaper was the perfect way for Blalock to finish out his lengthy career in media.
“I have been in journalism, book publishing and all that kind of thing for most of my life,” Blalock began. “I started out as editor of my high school newspaper in Hanceville. From there I worked on the University of Alabama’s newspaper in college. I have edited different newsletters, one for the family and another for the community where I lived in Virginia. When I moved back to Alabama after 20 years in Virginia, I did editing and proofing for the Alabama Department of Education when they would evaluate school systems, superintendents and so forth.
“I don’t have a journalism degree, but I’ve dabbled in it all that time,” he chuckled. “I did have a certification to teach English, so I did have some background on the subject.”
After the Blalocks acquired the Tribune, it took on a new life and grew from an eight-page newspaper to a much larger 22-page publication. New writers were added, each with a special knack for creating. The group became more of a family than just coworkers.
“Everybody that has written for the paper has been volunteers,” said Blalock. “We have never paid our staff for writing. They do it because they wish to. Of course they get all kinds of recognition for it; we provide a free subscription to them and we have an annual get-together with a pot-luck lunch and that kind of thing.”
Like a proud papa, Blalock likes to boast about his newspaper. With a smile he tells of all the ‘firsts’ the paper has accomplished here in Cullman.
“We established a number of things; we were the first to do a high school band edition, a Farm City edition and many other things. We try to inform the public on what’s going on and we’ve been in the midst of a few fights on occasion,” he grinned. “Like that biomass project where they were going to build an incinerator on Golf Course Road and bring in trash from all over north Alabama and pollute us, is what it boiled down to. We are the ones who would have had to breathe that air!
“I did the research on that project. It turns out there was a similar plant in Nashville and all the cars and houses around it were just filled with soot. Well, Marsha Folsom, whose husband was lieutenant governor at that time, got involved helping us. Then Dr. Warner and some others joined us and we organized a march to protest it; the City and County were about to implement this thing. Finally, two out of the three county commissioners backed off and that’s when the new landfill came about. It was state-of-the-art and the first one in Alabama that met the new environmental standards. About a year later, after we managed to get this thing to rest, the EPA banned those biomass things.”
Blalock has enjoyed his time with the Tribune. He has done many exciting things with the newspaper over the years, but now he feels it’s time to pass it on to someone else to grow and nurture. Noah Galilee and Dustin Isom, owners and publishers of CullmanSense, are the new owners of The Cullman Tribune. They plan to combine the two publications under the banner, Cullman Tribune. All current subscribers will continue to be served with expanded coverage.
“They are listing me as editor emeritus, so I will probably write some articles and do some features every now and then,” he smiled warmly.
When speaking of the new owners, Blalock wished them the best and asked the community to support them and pray for their success.
“You know, I have 26 years invested in this newspaper. I want to see them succeed as much as they want to succeed. I’m fairly optimistic they are going to be able to do some things they weren’t able to before.”
The Tribune will definitely see some historic changes in the near future. Thankfully, Blalock will be around to contribute to those special moments after the newspaper changes hands. With sad eyes and a hopeful heart, Blalock expressed his thanks to the people of Cullman County for their part in the Tribune’s success.
“I would like to express my deep gratitude to hundreds of Tribune readers, advertisers, columnists and supporters. This has been the most rewarding, as well as challenging, experience of my professional career.”
From high school newspaper to Cullman Tribune owner and editor, Blalock has seen his fair share of newspaper action over the years. The CullmanSense staff wishes him all the best in his upcoming retirement and hopes he will continue to be a part of the Tribune team for many years to come.