At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve as 2024 dawned, so began a new chapter in the history of the Donalsonville News.
Effective January 1, 2024, the ownership of the newspaper transferred from Dan Ponder and family to Donalsonville News editor David C. Maxwell.
In addition to serving as the paper’s managing editor, a post Maxwell says he has proudly devoted himself to for the past 12 years, Maxwell will now also assume the responsibilities of publisher and sole owner.
Maxwell commented, “Words fail me in trying to express my gratitude to Dan and the entire Ponder family for this tremendous opportunity. It is indeed a dream come true for me, and I will be eternally grateful to the Ponders for having the confidence in me to carry on the great tradition of this newspaper and its service to the community. It is said that if you can find a job you absolutely love you will never have to work another day in your life. Well, that’s how I feel because I absolutely love this job and the people of Seminole County. I will continue each day to honorably tell the stories and to put the faces of the people in this community on the pages of their hometown paper. It has been the newspaper’s goal from day one, and it continues today, to give our readers and advertisers exactly what they deserve – the absolute best.”
“Recognizing there are still areas in which to improve, the newspaper’s office manager Rhonda Worrell, and I are committed to effectively and efficiently serving our readers, our advertisers and our community. We believe that our best journalistic efforts are ahead of us, and we will never stop in our efforts to improve and expand our coverage as we work to become the best weekly community newspaper of our size in Georgia,” said Maxwell.
Ponder commented, “David Maxwell is one of the best hiring decisions I ever made in any of my businesses. He brought new life to the paper and in doing so became part of the community that calls Seminole County home. A good fit is when something works for everyone. David and I were a good fit. I enabled him to take the ball and run with it and run he did.”
Ponder purchased the newspaper from legendary, long-time publisher, the late Bo McLeod, in January 2011, and he hired Maxwell to join the newspaper staff as its managing editor in July 2011. From that time until the end of 2023, Ponder and Maxwell worked together to design, compile and produce a weekly newspaper that would continue to be the news source for Seminole County and Southwest Georgia and a product of which the community could be proud. During those 12-and-a-half years, the Ponder-Maxwell team reported on the issues affecting local citizens and supported Seminole County’s projects and activities with photos and articles in 651 issues of the Donalsonville News. The team also has been honored to receive more than 170 Georgia Press Association awards for those efforts.
Over those 12 years, in addition to his duties as the paper’s editor, Maxwell has been actively involved in community activities and various projects tasked with improving the quality of life for all.
He is currently a founding member and the director of the community’s Better Way Initiative, chairman of the Donalsonville-Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Donalsonville Historical Preservation Council, the Donalsonville-Seminole County Development Authority, and a past president and director of the Donalsonville Lions Club.
Maxwell also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Press Association and the Salvation Army Advisory Council.
Selected as Seminole County’s Citizen of the Year in 2015, Maxwell is an honorary member of the Seminole County Young Farmer’s Association, a Preservation Award recipient from the Historic Chattahoochee Commission, a Phoenix Affair Community Ally Award recipient, a Georgia Peanut Association media award winner, and has received multiple Georgia 4-H media awards.
Maxwell originally came to the Donalsonville News from Bainbridge College where he had been an instructor of English and Communications for seven years. In addition to his classroom and teaching responsibilities, Maxwell was the college’s coordinator for the statewide GOAL (Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership) Program. He was also a member of the faculty council and worked on various campus committees.
Maxwell is a graduate of Cairo High School and holds an associate’s degree in English from Bainbridge College and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Georgia.
Before his teaching time at Bainbridge College, Maxwell was the Marketing and Advertising Director for The Post-Searchlight in Bainbridge for 17 years. He has two daughters. Kaylee, the oldest, is an attorney in Atlanta, and Caroline, the youngest, lives just over the bridge from Jekyll Island in Brunswick.
The Donalsonville News was established in February 1916 after a group of local businessmen and other citizens met and decided the young town needed a voice to spread the news. Bo McLeod purchased the paper from the Webb and Smith estates in 1968.