Adam Smith and Carol Kent, owners of Kent Smith Group, will officially assume ownership of Holmes County Advertiser and Washington County News on July 1. [DIANE M. MOORE | THE NEWS AND ADVERTISER]]

Washington County News and Holmes County Advertiser will soon be under new local ownership, Neves Media Publishing announced on June 21.

Kent Smith Group, owned by Carol Kent and Adam Smith of Chipley, will assume news operations on July 1.

Publisher Todd Neves purchased the publications in 2021 from a corporate entity and says Kent and Smith will complete his original vision of returning local news to the community.

“I think that there’s still a tangibleness to still having that paper in your hand,†said Neves. “Carol and Adam are Washington County natives and will be able to continue to ensure Holmes and Washington counties have the representation and reliable local news they so richly deserve.â€

Kent previously served as Editor of the two publications from 2014 to 2018 before serving three years as Public Information Officer for the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office. She returned to the newsroom in 2021 and was promoted to Editor-in-Chief over Neves Media Publishing’s five newsrooms across Bay, Gulf, Franklin, Holmes, and Washington counties, a role she served before pursuing a separate opportunity to further her career.

She has gained a reputation statewide for her dedication to keeping quality, accurate, and relevant local journalism alive, having been invited by CNN in 2021 to lead a roundtable discussion about returning local papers to the community in their global podcast, “Reliable Sources.”

On July 1, Kent will return to the newsroom, this time as Publisher and co-owner.

“I wrote my first news story for Washington County News when I was a 16-year-old Junior at Chipley High School, and I just fell in love with telling the stories of my community,†said Kent. “I am thankful to Todd Neves for giving me the opportunity to return to the newsroom I so dearly love and for his support during this transition. There are a lot of moving parts, but going forward, readers can expect an even stronger focus on local news and events. We are the scrapbook of our community, the keepers of milestones for generations to come, and I am beyond excited to once again be serving Holmes and Washington counties.â€

Smith, a 1994 graduate of Chipley High School, has worked in Holmes, Washington, and surrounding counties for more than 30 years. He serves as the company’s Senior Vice President and will oversee the publications’ daily business operations.

“We are looking forward to completing what Neves began when the company purchased these weeklies in 2021,†said Smith. “Carol has the experience, relationships, and passion to build a quality local product that will chronicle the heart and history of Holmes and Washington counties. I look forward to partnering with her to refresh and lead these publications into the future.”

Reporter Diane M. Moore will remain on staff, with more local correspondents soon to be announced.

The first publication under the Kent Smith Group will be the July 5 edition.