As 2022 draws to a close, The Highlander would like to announce some exciting changes.

After three years in the director’s chair, Simon Payn is stepping down as publisher. Payn, who co-owns the County’s only independent newspaper along with Bram Lebo, isn’t going anywhere, however.

“I’m itching to get involved in some new projects, one of which will be writing for this newspaper,” Payn said.

At The Highlander, the publisher does not influence the editorial department. In other words, he or she does not tell it what it should or should not write. Editorial control rests with the news team.

Payn was proud he was able to help navigate through COVID, and launch the new SmartAds and Marketplace products.

“It’s time for someone else to take the reins as we enter a new year. I’m delighted Heather Kennedy will be in charge – her personality, commitment to our community and her love of The Highlander will ensure this newspaper thrives.”

When Lebo and Payn established The Highlander 11 years ago, Kennedy, not long out of college, became the production person on day one when home was the HCDC Business Incubator. She remained with the paper until the end of 2017.

“While on maternity leave with a wonderful person in my place, I made a career change to another local company to be more in line with my changing life of becoming a mom. I worked there for the next four years,” she said.

Returning to The Highlander this month has been an exciting career move, she added. “Also, an amazing opportunity to get involved in the community again, which I have so missed. I’m excited for the future of The Highlander, its products and our team… 2023 is going to be such an exciting year.”

Meanwhile, the paper bids farewell to journalist Sam Gillett.

“I’m leaving to pursue other job opportunities in journalism or in other fields: I graduated during the pandemic, so I want to experience working in other parts of journalism, Ontario or Canada in a post-pandemic world,” he said.

Gillett said he also knows first hand what many Highlanders are experiencing.

“I found rent and the cost of living in Haliburton pretty high: moving back home for a bit allows me to reset, save some money and do a couple of trips, as well as focus on art.”

But Gillett gained an appreciation of his new town during his time and said, “I get the feeling I’ll be back in Haliburton one day: and I feel very sad to leave The Highlander and the great people who make up the team.”

The editorial team will now comprise editor Lisa Gervais, assistant editor Mike Baker, and Payn, who will work on special projects.

The Highlander is an award-winning publication. It scooped four awards at the recent Canadian Community Newspaper Awards. Those wins included: best community newspaper website (2021) and best local editorial (2021), as well as a second place for best special section (2020) and third for best local editorial (2020).

At the Ontario Community Newspaper Association awards (OCNAs), there isn’t room to list all of the accolades the paper has received. However, it has been judged best paper of its circulation size for five of the past six years. In the other year, it was third.

“So, while the faces may change, the quality of The Highlander will just continue,” Kennedy said.