Interview by Abernathy Cochran intern and Gainesville High School senior Grady Vardeman
Meet Shannon Casas! Shannon has been the editor in chief at the Gainesville Times for just over a year now. She has held numerous positions in the newsroom since she began working at the paper in 2006. Shannon has left quite an impact on our community. In 2011, she even won an award for the story of the year from the Georgia Associated Press.
Shannon enjoys editing, writing, photography and engaging readers in what The Times has to offer. She and her husband, Brendan, have been foster parents since 2014 and they are members of Gainesville First United Methodist Church.
We are very lucky to have Shannon in Hall County and thankful she spent time with us recently telling us more about her life and love of Hall County.
Question: What is your favorite part about working at The Times?
Answer: “My job is always interesting. There’s always something different going on.”
Q: Do you have a favorite story you’ve covered for the Times?
A: “I did one years ago with these three sisters. Two of them live here and their youngest sister was actually sold for drugs. They never knew what happened to her until they were able to track her down. I was fortunate enough to be there when they reunited. That was in 2011, and the story ended up winning the Georgia Associated Press Story of the Year.”
Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A: “I’ve always liked improving other people’s writing or just improving things in general. In high school when you trade essays and go through and edit them and try to get them better, that was something I liked more than the average person. At first, I thought about being an English teacher; although it was interesting, the teaching was not for me. I more enjoyed breaking down the writing, and that’s essentially what I do.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Hall County, and what do you love there?
A: “Alpha, but it depends on my mood. On a winter day in December, I’ll get the lemon chicken soup with pita bread and dip the bread in the soup. If it’s sunnier out, I’ll get the falafel wrap.”
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Hall County?
A: “I’ve worked here since 2006 and we bought a house in Hall County in 2009.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: “This time of year I prefer to go somewhere warm. We went to Miami in January last year and that was fun. I like to travel internationally, and that was almost like it because there is so much culture and Spanish language down there — but also anywhere in Europe. I like immersing myself in different cultures. We’ll stay in an Airbnb and eat in all the local places. We went in 2018 to the Azores. It’s a little chain of islands off of Portugal. It’s volcanic islands, so you have hot springs, although the temperature is still cool and rainy.”
Q: What is your favorite television show?
A: “I’m watching ‘Mrs. Maisel’ and that’s great. ‘Mad Men’ is one of my favorites, as well.”
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: “Listen. We have a bad habit of assuming what people think and why, and we seem to skip meaningful conversations because of it.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “Traveling. I really want to see the Grand Canyon, and I’m hoping to get that done this year. Anywhere out West would be fun. I haven’t been past Texas yet.”
Q: What current or local business makes you most nostalgic about Hall County?
A: “Green’s Grocery.”
Q: Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? Where in Hall County would you have lunch?
A: “Jon Foreman from Switchfoot, which is one of my favorite bands. His music is just very thoughtful, and he explores a lot of big topics whether it’s religion, faith, doubt — and the way he does it, I think it would strike a very interesting conversation. And I’d like to eat at Sweet Magnolia’s.”
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Hall County?
A: “The proximity to everything, being close to the mountains. Also my family lives near Atlanta, so I’m close to them as well.”
Q: What three words or phrases that come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: “Love, stability and safety.”
Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: “I was really into chorus in high school. And I play a little bit of guitar and piano, but not in front of anyone.”
Q: If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose? Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
A: “I would say chef, but my husband is a great chef, so I’ll go with a housekeeper.”
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
A: “Jon Hamm.”