May 28, 2022

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Mayfield, KY, reporter single-handedly covers tornado-ravaged town

6 min read


MAYFIELD, Ky. — Tucked into corner seating at the town’s coffee shop, Taylor Shea West introduced herself to the woman sitting across from her she was about to interview.

She didn’t have to. Heather Nesler already knew West.

In fact, Nesler knows her mom and first met West when she was little.

That kind of thing isn’t uncommon for West, a Mayfield native who now works as a newspaper reporter covering her hometown.

“It’s a small town,” Nesler said, smiling.

“It is,” West agreed.

It’s also one wrestling with a big problem — how to rebuild after a deadly Dec. 10 tornado wiped out huge swaths of the town.

Taylor West reacts while walking into the Mayfield First United Methodist church for the first time. West is the lone reporter for the Mayfield Messenger. "A lot of people have taken the initiative to care for each other," West said.

West, 23, was finishing up her second week at The Mayfield Messenger — her first full-time journalism job — when the twister tore through the town of 10,000, taking with it the lives of 24 fellow Graves County residents and many of its buildings, including the newspaper office West had barely settled into.

The twice-a-week paper has a small news staff: There’s Areia Hathcock, the general manager who keeps things organized, and Taylor, the boots-on-the-ground news reporter.





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