SEBRING — Four D-R Media employees were promoted Thursday. The promotions cross county lines between Highlands, Lake, Polk and Sumter counties. D-R Media produces the daily and weekly community newspapers in those markets as well as multiple magazine publications.

Highlands News-Sun Publisher Tim Smolarick was promoted to vice president and group publisher for the media corporation. Smolarick got his start in the newspaper business working in circulation at the Clearwater Sun. After working at several newspapers, he became publisher of the Venice Gondolier Sun. He has been publisher of the Highlands New-Sun since 2017.

“My main goal is to continue to fulfill David Dunn-Rankin's and our company's vision of providing quality journalism and advertising that works with businesses,” he said. “We want to be involved at community events whenever possible.”

Smolarick says he knows there will be added responsibility on him but he is up to the challenge.

“I am excited to continue to work with David Dunn-Rankin and the leaders of our newspapers across this market,” he said. “Community news gathering and driving results for advertisers remains a passion for me and D-R Media provides the perfect platform for both.”

Highlands News-Sun Executive Editor Romona Washington has been a steady and guiding force in the Highlands County newspaper industry for over 35 years. Her new title is corporate executive editor.

She started her newspaper career in circulation at the Avon Park Sun. She worked her way up and through the ranks of all aspects in the newspaper business.

Washington is looking forward to getting better acquainted with staff at the other papers and working with them.

"I'm looking forward to working with Managing Editor Steven Ryzewski and his news team in reporting those stories for the Polk News-Sun and the Winter Haven Sun," Washington said. "It is always our goal to provide accurate, balanced and thorough news coverage for our readers."

"I'm also looking forward to helping enhance the other newspapers under D-R Media's umbrella in north Lake, Polk and Sumter counties. With these new responsibilities for D-R Media, I won't be at my desk in Sebring as much as I am now, but I'm not going anywhere," Washington said. "I just may be a little harder to find at times.”

Highlands News-Sun Circulation Director Rob Kearley was promoted to corporate circulation director. Kearley began his newspaper career in customer service in the 1980s. He has been at several papers and has extensive knowledge of every aspect of circulation and delivery.

“I am looking forward to working with the fine people who make up their businesses,” he said. “My main goal is to support and help. We want to make sure everyone receives the best customer service possible. I am looking forward to finding out their experience and meshing mine with them in order to be a great team.”

Polk News-Sun's Kim Edwards has been named general manager for the Polk newspapers. Edwards has the experience to back up her enthusiasm. Her career started at the Haines City Herald and Ridge Shopper newspaper, which a family member owned.

Edwards has been in the business for 36 years and with D-R Media for two and a half years. She said she learned each and every job from the ground up.

“I'm excited to be able to hire more staff,” she said. “I am looking forward to growing the portfolio of products in Polk."

“Kim brings a different level of excitement for the newspapers and the community," Smolarick said. "Polk County is a great place to live and work and we look forward to Kim’s leadership.”

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