Reporter says goodbye to The News Progress

Chase City Mayor Eddie Bratton (left) congratulates Dallas Weston at last weeks town council meeting. 

Dallas Weston has spent over 40 years reporting for local newspapers Those who have had the pleasure of meeting him, working with him, or reading his stories, will find him hard to forget. when he leaves for retirement. Known as “Boots” to locals in the Chase City and Boydton area, Dallas has seen the community and reporting change drastically over the years. 

Becoming a reporter was a complete accident for Weston. “I had every intention of being a famous Rock ’n’ Roll star. It just happened that I needed a job and The New Progress had an opening and I jumped in.” Dallas was hired by the associate editor at the time, Jim Williams, to do inserts in the back. He gradually began writing starting with a feature on the old Mecklenburg Springs Hotel and then a story on Prestwould’s Christmas Program. Knowing little about writing and even less about photography, Dallas decided to go for it, not knowing that it would lead to a long and respectable career. “I don’t know who was more desperate, they or me” he says about the The News Progress. Since then, Weston has worked for multiple newspaper in and out of the county having written for The News Progress, The South Hill Enterprise, The Mecklenburg Sun, and a paper in Amelia. He has seen the field of reporting change quite a bit in that time. “I’ve only really known one bad reporter in my time. Most reporters I have known have been very diligent, they have been very dedicated to getting the story out there, telling the facts.” Dallas says. 

Anyone with a career spanning over 40 years long is sure to have an interesting story or two to tell. “I’ve written a lot of stories that have stayed with me. You know the people, and their stories…It’s just a hard to call one.” he said when trying to recall the most intriguing. “I can’t call her name right now but she was a little girl [that lived] near Clarksville. She had been diagnosed with brain cancer, and they pretty much told her from the get go that it was terminal. Interviewing her, I didn’t know what to say, what to ask, and she was absolutely one of the most charming people I have ever met in my life. She did not appear afraid, she had more guts and more fortitude, than anybody else I have ever met in this world. I have never forgotten her.” he recalls. Dallas spoke of the young ladies innate dignity and grace. “This girl was only 14 or 15 years old, but she had her stuff so much more together than so many people three times her age. She was more together then than I am now. It’s cliche to say that she was an inspiration but she was.” 

The most memorable moment of Weston’s career came at the end. He has received an enormous amount of love and support from the community. “The outpouring of support that I have seen since I announced that I was retiring has been amazing. The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution honoring my years of service. Town Council in Chase City the other night. At the end of the meeting they had a reception for me. People have said the greatest things about me and it’s been really amazing because like I said earlier, reporters are not particularly respected right now,” he explained. Through Dallas’s years as a reporter there have been plenty of people who made no secret of disliking the profession. He recalls being at a meeting at one of those same people pointing at him and saying that Dallas was a good one. “It meant so much to me because [he] didn’t like reporters but it seems as though I have treated him with respect and I got respect back. I’ve tried to keep that in mind with every story I have written.” he explained. “If I write a story and you know how I feel about that story at the end, I have not done my job, I have messed up. We’re not supposed to tell people what to think. They’re supposed to figure that out themselves. We’re supposed to present them with the facts that we see.” 

Dallas explained the ways that reporting has changed since he started his career. “There were no computers. I remember when The News Progress got it’s first Apple. One of the cold press machines had broken down and could not really be repaired quickly or cheaply so they made the switch to computers. They bought two Apples and a laser printer, and that changed everything.” he continued, “It used to sound like a machine gun battle going off in the office with everybody typing [on type writers]. Pictures had to be developed the old fashion way, dark room stuff. I miss it in a way, I really do, because there’s something really cool about going in the dark room.” Weston says that computers were different, not necessarily for the better or for the worse, just different. 

Dallas Weston has seen this county and the people in it go through many changes. When talking about the future of small town newspapers he says “You’re not going to watch CNN and see them bring you the Clarksville Town Council. It’s still a way for people in the local area to find out what’s happening locally. That’s important. It’s very important.” Weston has spent years building his credible and respectable career reputation. He has been fair to the people that he has written about and remained loyal to the people who have helped him during his time reporting the local news. “I sort of feel like Jimmy Stewart in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ when he realizes how great he really had it. I just want to thank the people that have read the stuff over the years and supported it. Frankly, without them I would be flipping burgers at Hardee’s or something. I can’t think of anything that I would rather be doing.” continuing “I’ve had a lot of officials that have gone out of their way to give me information and I can’t thank them enough either. It’s been a great ride. I’ll still be doing the column for a while and covering Board of Supervisors meetings but it’s been a lot of fun. I want to particularly thank Jimmy Williams for taking a chance on me all those years ago.” He officially retired on Monday, November 18, handing the paper that he has managed for so long to Jonathan Kirkland. He is now and will always be a big part of local news, The News Progress, and the community.