I’m excited to join The Times-Journal as the newest staff writer. Allow me to tell you a bit about myself and how my life has taken me around the world and back.

I am 30 years old and graduated from Northeast Alabama Community College with my associate’s degree in business. I’m looking forward to covering this area and learning as we aim for economic growth.

I have two children, a seven-year-old daughter, Summer and a four-year-old son, Parker. They are currently in school at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Because my children are such a huge part of my life and my inspiration for virtually everything I do, I may share tales about my two children from time to time. I’m very blessed that my kids get to grow up and experience the same small town raising that I treasured growing up here.

Some of you reading this may know my parents, Deborah Cox and William and Janine Rigstad, or possibly one of my six siblings: Lorene, Phillip, and Beth Shepherd and Tascha, Labron, and Jesse Rigstad. I know they are excited to see me writing stories and building pages for the newspaper.

A decade ago, shortly after the deadly tornados ripped through Sand Mountain, I moved to Aviano, Italy. I recommend traveling abroad to everyone. I wouldn’t trade my small southern upbringing for anything, but living in a strongly diverse community helped me grow to be a more compassionate and understanding person in many ways.

A year later, I returned to the states, settling in at Minot air Force Base in the frozen tundra known as North Dakota. During that seven-year period, I raised my children and volunteered at our local Airman’s Attic. The Airman’s Attic is a large-scale thrift store, but unlike the thrift stores here, everything was free for military, their families and veterans as well. I loved my work there because, as anyone who has met me can tell you, I love to meet new people and lend a helping hand.

Working as a volunteer taught me a great deal about communicating with people from all walks of life and avoiding the temptation to judge others. While there, I also started up a local Blessing Box on the military base to provide free food and help combat food insecurities within the military community.

In 2019, I made the decision to move back home to Henagar. I’ve felt a new appreciation for everything I might have taken for granted when I knew less of the world. Since moving back to Henagar, I have become even more community oriented. My travels had a significant impact on my growth as a human being and I discovered a passion for truth, justice and law.

I joined the Fort Payne Optimist Club because I’ve always believed that being kind and having a positive attitude will never steer you wrong. I also started on my second degree at NACC and became a member of the Nu Alpha Chi chapter of LAE with the American Criminal Justice Association.

I’m very passionate about creating a better future for our children and community. I’m excited to do that in this new role and consider it to be a great privilege to join the team at The Times-Journal. I hope you’ll follow me on my new journey as I strive to bring a pleasant but unusual level of creativity that you will enjoy reading. It’s not just the voice of the writer that adds magic to a story but also the heart she puts into each word.

— Bonnie Walters is the newest staff writer for The Times-Journal. Her email is bonnie.walters@times-journal.com

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