After staying home with her children for 12 years and running a successful at-home cake decorating business called Layers of Love, Jennifer Vesper started with The Morgan County News in 2012. From 2012 until mid-January 2018, Jennifer worked tirelessly to expose the layers of love in Morgan County through her labor of love as the managing editor of The Morgan County News.
“Jen is living, breathing kindness,” Deanne Winterton, co-worker at the paper, related. “Sometimes she is too kind, or kind to a fault. But there are much worse things than that. I saw her extend the deadline almost every week just so someone could get in an obituary, or just so their ad could be perfect. She wants everyone around her to be happy, and it is infectious. She absolutely made the newspaper a better place and she has tremendously BIG shoes to fill, even though she has such a small stature. What many people don’t know is that she would stay up until all hours of the morning, like regularly 3 a.m., putting her final creative touches on the newspaper before sending it to press. She was blessed with a creative talent that she willingly shares with all those around her.”
After six years in this position, Vesper decided to step away from her responsibilities to pursue a new career opportunity at Weber State University that will allow her to fulfill her longtime dream of finishing her education. “I am excited to be a non-traditional student in the fall,” Vesper shared.
When Vesper began working at the paper, she had only been living in the county for about a year, “but I had already volunteered to help with the Morgan Relay for Life and Christmas on Commercial Street, so I thought I knew a lot about Morgan and its residents already,” she began. “Boy, was I wrong!” Vesper continued. “I quickly fell in love with the community I was serving. Working in this capacity gave me the chance to get to know so many amazing people. I am so grateful for that opportunity.”
Vesper’s creative aptitude has arrived in homes across the county and country each week in the form of a physical newspaper, but her reach and talents have stretched beyond the mailbox and the newsstands. “Aside from my regular duties, this position offered me the chance to really be involved in the community. I loved serving as a board member of the Morgan Chamber of Commerce. I thoroughly enjoyed representing The Morgan County News at the Morgan County Fair, Morgan’s 4th of July celebration, Christmas on Commercial, and many other things,” she expounded.
“Whether I was there as a volunteer, or as a reporter, it was rewarding to witness the hard work and love that goes into each of these events. I hope to have involvement in other community capacities moving forward,” Vesper added.
Vesper not only managed the paper, but she worked hard to objectively and professionally report and present the events in our small, closely-connected community. Achieving the balance between objective journalism and “keeping the peace” was sometimes like walking a tightrope, but Vesper handled it with grace and diplomacy.
“The one thing I have learned from covering city meetings is how important it is for residents to attend and be involved. Before I had this job, I had never attended a single council meeting, now I will continue to attend even though I may not always write about it. I may know much more about the sewer system than I ever wanted to, but I feel like I understand more about the necessity of the charges I may see and the steps our Morgan City staff members have gone through to make sure the best, most cost-efficient measures have been taken. I also have a new appreciation for the council and the number of unpaid hours they put in every year to make sure our city is cared for,” she exhorted.
Creating community is a tough challenge and as a voice for the community, Vesper continually champions involvement. “Our local paper needs its community!” she invited. “If you attend an event you think is worthy of coverage, write something up and send it in. Don’t worry about being the perfect writer. Others in the community will appreciate seeing your photos and reading your words even if they aren’t professionally written. If it is important to you, it is likely important to someone else. Write letters to the editor. Get involved!”
As managing editor, Vesper worked closely with the community as well as The Morgan County News staff. She related, “The staff at The Morgan County News has been my second family. I shed a lot of tears when I resigned. I love each and every person I have worked with and hope to continue those friendships. I am excited to see the growth that will come from the new faces who are stepping into my shoes. Our local newspapers are vital to our community, and I plan to continue to contribute through stories as my time allows. “
Don Casias, publisher of The Morgan County News, praised Vesper, “Jen and I have worked together for many years. She has become a good friend as well as a fantastic managing editor. Jen cares about the community and the people in the community and that comes across in every interaction with her. She puts her heart and soul into everything she does. I feel like she is family. She has had an impact on the Morgan community through her time at the newspaper and through all the volunteer work she does. I will miss working with Jennifer every week and the sunshine that she brings into my life in every interaction.”
Those of us who worked for Vesper loved her flexibility, encouragement and delight at our work. Sports reporter Jon Yorgason commented, “One of the things I appreciated most about Jen was her enthusiasm with every idea I had for an article I wanted to write. Never once did I feel like I had to run the gauntlet just to get something published. I’m also pretty sure I never saw her without a smile on her face. Her joy for living is pretty infectious.”
Vesper truly cares about each individual and has the unique talent of making everyone feel important and that his or her story is “just what she needed to complete the paper for the week.” She delighted in student writing and helped young writers discover and fuel their talents.
“I would like to especially thank all of my writers,” Vesper concluded in her typical gracious manner. “This community is full of wonderful people and the best of the best have written for this paper. They have covered events with so much heart. Every word makes me proud. Some of our writers are paid, some do it just to be published, some write just to be heard, and some do it purely for the love of the written word. Whatever reason they write, we all benefit from their efforts and I love them all for it!”
Jennifer Vesper has enriched The Morgan County News for six years, and we love her for it! Her willingness to lovingly peel back the layers of our community to expose the weaknesses and to celebrate the strengths has made Morgan a better place! Best of luck to her as she returns to the classroom and pursues her new career. And if we are lucky, we will have opportunities to occasionally read her stories in the paper…and that folks will be the “icing on the cake.”