McDuffie Mirror Staff Writer Billy Hobbs was recently named the Employee of the Month for The Augusta Chronicle.
"We're very proud of (Mr. Hobbs) and The McDuffie Mirror, and all that you do here," said Don Bailey, president of The Augusta Chronicle. The Chronicle and The Mirror are both owned by Morris Communications.
Mr. Hobbs was nominated for the award by The Chronicle's Metro Editor Bill Kirby for his work on a breaking news story in September. Although the story took place in Putnam County, it was about unusual circumstances surrounding the death of a prominent Augusta businessman.
Mr. Hobbs was called by editors of The Chronicle and asked if he knew any law enforcement contacts in Putnam County. Mr. Hobbs said he did, volunteered to make phone calls and ended up making two trips to Eatonton, Ga., to conduct interviews and obtain photos and details about the case.
Because of Mr. Hobbs' work, The Chronicle's Web site led all media on the Labor Day weekend in reporting details of the case.
"Billy Hobbs took extra effort to a new level," Mr. Kirby said in the nomination. "His personal efforts on this story were outstanding and were appreciated by his colleagues and readers. He did all this with enthusiasm and without complaint."
Mr. Bailey and The Chronicle's Human Resource Director Cynthia Spencer visited The McDuffie Mirror office Friday to recognize Mr. Hobbs and present him a plaque, a certificate for an extra day off with pay, a jacket, an ink pen engraved with his name, and a $100 gift card.
"I don't think I should be rewarded for doing my job," Mr. Hobbs said in an interview later. "It is a gracious honor. I truly believe in the news. I take it very seriously. News is Billy Hobbs, it's who I am."
Mr. Kirby said Mr. Hobbs' work on the story "is supplemented by other extra efforts covering highway fatalities beyond his area and off hours" for The Chronicle.
"I've never seen a more dedicated news reporter than Billy," McDuffie Mirror Publisher Todd Rainwater said. "When I tell him to slow down, he argues with me and tells me there's news to report."
Mr. Hobbs has worked for three years for The Mirror, but he has been reporting in the newspaper business off and on for approximately 30 years.
After graduating from Thomson High School in 1975, Mr. Hobbs started his career at the Warrenton Clipper.
He has been a writer, correspondent, or editor for the News and Farmer in Louisville, the Jefferson Reporter in Wrens and the Columbia News-Times in Martinez when they were independently owned publications.
He also was a police reporter for The Augusta Chronicle, a special correspondent for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a stringer for United Press International, in addition to writing for a newspaper in Massachusetts and working in management in the private sector.
"I certainly want to be remembered as a newspaper man," Mr. Hobbs said. "I believe in what we do every morning and every night. It's fun to see newspapers educate folks. I really do love what I do."