Kayla Charles. Or, as you more likely know her, Kayla Ullom. The Flandreau native, the girl you’ve known around town for years and in any number of different capacities, is now helping pull together the publication she not only grew up with, but that you are now reading.
Behind the scenes and officially, Charles was hired as the Moody County Enterprise’s new General Manager this spring. Roger Janssen, who has been with the MCE nearly his entire adult life, is getting ready to step back from the day-to-day at the paper, stay home a bit more often with his wife, Linnea, maybe visit the grandkids in Minnesota a little more often, and otherwise keep the fishing pole a lot more handy.
He’s ready to turn over the reins, and it couldn’t come at a better time, according to Ullom. Because she’s ready for a new challenge.
Charles graduated in 2007 from Flandreau Public High School. She was President of her Senior Class, as bold then as she is now, and voted Most Likely to Never Leave Town by her classmates.
In 2011, not really knowing what she wanted to do, Charles decided that there was a big wide world out there just waiting for her to explore. She moved to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri to help an aunt with her children. While there, she met her future husband, Jerrick. The two moved with his career to California for a time, then to Colorado. It was there that the two realized it was tough being so far from either one’s family.
“My mom has had multiple sclerosis for about 23 years and her mobility changes year to year depending on how the disease is progressing. So, we decided to come back here, be close to my parents, and start our family. We wanted them to have cousins to grow up with and my sister was here with her youngest. So yeah, we came back,” said Ullom slyly, with a smile.
What does Charles want you to know about her?
“I’m family oriented,” she’ll tell you. She and Jerrick have two young children of their own now.
Tim and Kelly Ullom, Charles’ parents, are both from the area and both graduated from Egan High School in the 1980’s. She’s got two siblings, Brittany and a younger brother, Anthony.
Work has taken her any number of places since and she has spent the better part of the last 7 years at Royal River Casino & Hotel in the marketing department. They were all unique jobs, but in many ways, the same skill sets she believes she will grow now in her new role with the paper.
“It has the best of both worlds,” she said. “It has the numbers side of it and it is artistic. It was a way for me to stay local and have the best of both worlds and use my experience coming from the casino.”
In just a short time, Ullom says that’s learned a lot.
“I’ve learned a week goes by a lot faster than you think… And then before you know it, it’s Monday and it’s deadline again and what you thought you were going to grab for a story for the week, it’s gone and you’ve got to move onto the next idea. I’ve also learned that there’s a lot more going on than we realize. And to try to cover it, it’s crazy. And you don’t know about everything.”
She’s also excited to become part of a publication that she’s read since she was a little girl. “In 8th grade, I remember my literature teacher Dorothy Leraas asked all the students in my class, ‘Who reads the paper?’ and I was one of like two students who raised my hand. I just have always read the paper. I grew up reading the Enterprise.”