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Woman of Wilson: Amelia Morrison Hipps

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Assuming the part-time position of Wilson County Schools Public Information Officer in 2014 came naturally for longtime journalist and editor Amelia Morrison Hipps.

Education is something both she and her husband, retired broadcast journalist Jim Hipps, are passionate about. Jim is currently the crossing guard at Tucker's Crossroads Elementary and teaches domestic violence classes to offenders assigned by the court.

"When I say I have been moved emotionally by what I've observed in our county school system, I'm not joking. We are truly blessed to have such committed individuals in our school system," she said.

"I wish everyone had the opportunities that I do to hear the excitement and enthusiasm everyone in the system has about his or her job."

Her new job does not mean that Hipps is leaving the newspaper world behind. The former managing editor of The Lebanon Democrat and writer for The Wilson Post currently serves as managing editor of The Tennessee Press, a monthly trade association publication for the members of the Tennessee Press Association. Hipps, born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in Chickamauga, Georgia, started her newspaper career in 1982 as a feature writer at the Chattanooga News-Free Press.

The Shorter College graduate studied for her master's degree in journalism at The University of Georgia, where she was one of 16 international students selected as a fellow in the last Media Leadership for Journalism Graduate Students Fellowship Program at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida.

In her 20s, Hipps left the newspaper industry for a few years and worked as the administrative assistant for the directors of public relations and alumni affairs at The McCallie School for Boys in Chattanooga, and in public relations and publication production for Erlanger Medical Center, the University of Tennessee Chattanooga and Corporate Relations, a public relations firm.

In addition to her positions in Lebanon, Hipps newspaper career history includes: reporter at the Toccoa Record (Georgia), reporter/editor of the Walker County Messenger (Georgia), managing editor of The Dothan Progress (Alabama), managing editor/COO of the Enterprise Ledger (Alabama) and executive editor of the Statesboro Herald (Georgia).

It was during her time at the Statesboro Herald that she met the man she calls her "best friend and soul mate."

"We met in June 1999... he was the News Operations Manager at WSAV, the NBC affiliate station in Savannah, Georgia. The station manager of WSAV and the owner of The Herald had entered an agreement to share news stories between the television station and the four newspapers in the Morris Multimedia chain ringing Savannah.

"Jim and I met at a planning meeting to implement the exchanges. He was not part of the morning meeting, but was there for the afternoon one. I saw him standing at the end of this long conference table following a tour of their new weather station and thought to myself, 'Who is this tall, lanky redheaded Texan?'"

It was over two months later, on Aug. 28 when they had a first date. Hipps said she was the one who asked him out.

"I knew he was 'the one' at Thanksgiving that year when we had an argument. I wrote him a letter explaining my side of the situation, and after he read it, he said, 'I don't agree with everything in your letter, but that's your perception of the situation, so that's your reality, and I respect that. We need to talk this through to reach a compromise.'

"Right then and there, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him because he respected my views and was willing to work on the problem," Hipps remembered. "In every way possible, Jim is truly my soul mate. I know that sounds like a cliché, but I can't imagine my life with anyone other than him."

They will have been married for 13 years on Sept. 7.

The couple moved to Wilson County in 2006, when Hipps accepted the managing editor position at The Lebanon Democrat. Although she resigned in January 2012, due to her late father's declining health, the Hipps family kept their roots planted in Lebanon.

She said that since her father's passing on Jan. 30, 2013 from congestive heart failure, her mother has even considered relocating to Tennessee a time or two.

"Twice since my daddy's death, my mother has considered selling her home, which she's lived in for over 50 years in Chickamauga, and moving to Wilson County. I had to let her work through that process mentally and emotionally, trying not to influence her but to offer the pros and cons of such a dramatic change at her age, just as she did for me when I was young," Hipps said. "She decided both times to stay in Chickamauga, where she has a full life with a wonderful church family, many life-long friends and is involved in several volunteer activities."

Hipps, a mother to three "four-legged" children, serves on the board of New Leash on Life, the local no-kill animal shelter.

In her spare time, she loves to read historical fiction and biographies, and watch movies and documentaries with her husband. "We are both political junkies... Some folks would get a kick out of listening to our running commentaries while watching politicians," she said.

The woman she most admires is her paternal grandmother, affectionately referred to as "Mommaw."

"Mommaw was a remarkable lady in my eyes. Despite many challenges and obstacles both early in life and later, she had the most awesome loving spirit. If you knew her history, you would understand how and why she could have justifiably become a very bitter woman. But instead, she was the most loving, caring and non-judgmental lady I've ever know."

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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