How do you sum up two years?
That’s what I have been trying to figure out the last few weeks as I have been looking on what to write in this farewell column. It was easier back in June 2009, when I wrote the intro column for Westfield Patch, when we debuted on June 3.
It’s been an incredible two years. Well, two years and two months since launch and two years, three months and eight days since I started on the job. All I can really say is thank you.
Thank you for welcoming me into your homes, schools, houses of worships, community groups and businesses. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for reading Patch. Thank you for your feedback. Thank you for great memories and experiences. Above all thank you for everything.
Back in 2009 when Patch launched, I had some hesitation. Mainly on how would we be received here in town. We were a new entity and I was hopeful, but a bit nervous. That nervousness went away quickly because everyone here in town was so welcoming and there was so much to cover.
There have been so many high points to the last two years. For me the two most exciting were in August 2010, when I flew in the Blackhawk and with the curling club in February 2010 during the Olympics. Both of those were a lot of fun and will be great memories. But there are others.
Covering the pool the last three summers has always been a high point, including finally last month. Working with community groups here in town has been a high point.
Covering the Searching for Work group at the Presbyterian Church will be something I will always remember. This group has been so welcoming and while it could be a topic that could be depressing, the members of the group never made it depressing. They have been incredibly supportive of one another and I always looked forward to attending the weekly meetings.
Westfield has so many great community groups and I’ve had the opportunity to attend many great events and speak to several of the groups including the Rotary Club, Westfield Neighborhood Council, Optimist Club and the Garden Club of Westfield. I look back to the Haunted House the Optimist Club did at the pool in 2009, where they generously let Patch have a table. It was raining that night, but the spirit of the members of the group to put on the first haunted house in years never dwindled and kept me going as I talked about Patch with those waiting in line.
I can go on about the community groups here in town and the great community spirit. Be it the pre-Thanksgiving Dinner at the Westfield Neighborhood Council, the 75th anniversary of Wilson School, the McKinley School centennial celebration, the Garden Club, the Westfield Symphony Orchestra, the Blue Devil Relays, Homecoming, the opening day for baseball and softball, the College Men’s Club, WHS Back to School Night, Play for Pink, the PCW picnic, GreekFest, AppleFest, swimming parades, high school sports championships, home tours, kitchen tours, jazz nights, Rita’s fundraisers….I could go on and on. I’ve attended and covered so many great events over the past two years, all of which were fun. And I attended my first boxing match in the middle of all that.
Covering school events has always been fun. The spirit of the students and teachers is always there and infectious. I also have to say that WHS has produced some talented students and graduates who have contributed to Patch over the past two years. This has been a great bonus.
Unfortunately at times this job has involved covering some of the saddest events to occur in town. The untimely deaths of firefighters Jim Pfeiffer and Danny Maglione and teacher Kelly Finkel. The tragic fires at the Hamilton House apartments and Ferraro’s. Other stories that you never want to write or edit.
I am talking a lot about community groups, but a good chunk of my time has been spent covering issues and politics. My goal has been to bring the news out to everyone and allow you to learn more and comment and help build community engagement. I’ve learned so much about a wide range of issues over the last two years and have enjoyed covering these issues.
Some could say covering Town Council and Board of Education can be dull or tiring. But I can say it’s been the opposite for me. These meetings have always been full of interesting issues and while at times late, I’ve never tired of covering these meetings. I want to thank all of the members of the Town Council and Board of Education I have covered over the past two years for answering my questions whenever I’ve asked.
I also want to thank the excellent staffs at both the Municipal Building and within the school system for all of their assistance when I’ve asked over the past two years. I extend these thanks to all community groups and sports teams here in town.
There are a few other people I’d like to thank.
I want to thank my family and friends for their love and support during this adventure. And for putting up with my slightly hectic schedule.
I want to thank everyone I’ve worked with at Patch here in Union County and actually across New Jersey. Here in Union County, we’ve got a great group of Patch editors and we meet once a week (sometimes more). It’s been my privilege to work with this talented group of journalists.
I also recognize Sharm Shade, the ad manager for Patch here in Westfield. Sharm and I have worked together since December 2009. It’s been my pleasure to work with her.
I also want to thank all of the contributors to Westfield Patch. I don’t want to go through a list of names, because honestly I don’t want to leave anyone out. But I want to thank all of you for your hard work and dedication to covering Westfield and helping to make Westfield Patch what it is today.
Above all I want to thank all of you here in Westfield. That hesitancy I talked about earlier went away primarily because of everyone in town. Many people have told me that I was everywhere and one reason I could cover so much was because of everyone in town, who invited me, told me about what they saw and answered my questions.
As I head to Washington I will take all of these memories with me and remember fondly these last two years here in Westfield. I’ll be back to visit and please keep in touch. I will be keeping up with the news here in town as well.