THE INDEPENDENT Newsgroup Editorial Staff is shown here, seated, Elizabeth Wehman, Editor; back row, from left: Graham Sturgeon, Co-Editor; Janae Fear, Staff Writer; and Melissa Shepard, Associate Editor. (Independent Photo/KAREN MEAD-ELFORD)

Changes are underway at the Independent Newsgroup, beginning Feb. 1, for the editorial reporters. These reporters will soon be headed out into the Shiawassee county communities to gather school, sports, personal interest, business, and political stories. They are eager to get your news in the future editions of the Independent.

Coming back to the newspaper as the new editor is Elizabeth Wehman. She began her writing career as a freelance writer in 1991. After having several articles published in magazines, she pursued a contributing writer position

in 2000, where her first newspaper article was highlighted on the front page. In 2008, Wehman was hired at the Independent newspaper as a proofreader. After six months, Wehman began editing and producing the Perry/Morrice Independent until reporter Donna Klein retired. Upon Klein’s retirement, Wehman took over the reporting and editing of the Durand Independent.

Wehman left the newspaper for a short time and had the opportunity to publish two inspirational novels, “Under the Windowsill” in 2014 and “Promise at Daybreak” in 2015.

“Grasping the stories of interesting and deserving people and forwarding the news to the residents of Shiawassee County is a privilege,” Wehman says. “Following in the footsteps of other writers such as Bill Constine, Jackie Leone, Donna Klein and Ed Buskirk is an honor. I’m excited to return to the Independent in hopes of continuing this newspaper as a viable and effective way to get news. Watch for exciting updates and changes in the coming issues.”

Elizabeth graduated from Cedarville University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business. She grew up in Lennon and graduated from Durand High School. She lives with her husband, David, in Owosso and has three children, Emily, Rebekah and Ethan. Wehman can be reached at

The new Co-Editor of the Independent is Graham Sturgeon. Sturgeon joined the Independent in Feb. 2014, two months after graduating from the University of Michigan-Flint Journalism Program with a Bachelor degree. He is a Durand High School graduate, and lives with his wife and three children in the Durand area. He has primarily covered news in the Durand area, including Byron, Bancroft and Lennon communities. He can be reached at

Melissa (Missi) Shepard started at The Independent in 2002, doing graphic design. After ten years, she left to start her own business from home. In 2013, she returned as a staff writer. Soon after that, she began training as an Associate Editor, and she alternated editing duties of the Wednesday Independent for the past year and a half.

As the daughter of a journalist, (her mother, the late Jackie Leone, was in the business for 47 years), she was influenced at an early age.

Shepard started the Jackie Leone Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2013 and, along with her husband, coaches her daughter’s softball teams.

Shepard graduated from Owosso High School and has a Bachelor degree from Davenport University in Microcomputers and Network Management. She lives in Owosso with her husband, Chad and daughter, Kayla. She can be reached at

Janae Fear began her career at the Independent in 2005 as a proofreader, becoming a contributing writer in 2014 and a staff writer in 2015. Prior to working at the paper, she spent close to ten years in retail as a store manager and corporate training leader. Fear moved to Owosso in 2003 and has adopted it as her hometown.

She is actively involved in the community, currently serving as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Owosso, Vice President of her neighborhood homeowners association and as a member of Memorial Healthcare’s Patient and Family Advisory Council. Fear lives in Owosso with her husband, Frank, and three children. She can be reached at

All community news can still be sent in to, faxed to (989) 725-1834 or called in to the office at (989) 723-1118.

Meet the Editorial Staff was last modified: February 1st, 2016 by Karen Elford