Looking back--through the coffeemaker
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
It’s New Year’s Eve as I write this and I’m sitting in my office thinking about the events of the past year, as we all do around this time.
It’s been a busy year for me personally and a busy year for Lake County.
Reporter LaReesa Sandretsky and I started at the News-Chronicle just a week apart and just after the flood that devastated much of the region. We covered stories about the recovery efforts and saw folks come together to help one another.
One of my favorite stories was about the Rib Fest fundraiser organized by the folks at The Lighthouse at Emily’s for the Knife River Community Center. People and contributions came in from all over the area to help the Center make repairs.
Heritage and Bay Days came next — small town fun with activities for everyone. We did a story about a Heritage Days vendor who was struck by lightning during a brief squall that blew through Two Harbors. We also covered the ribbon cutting ceremony in Silver Bay for the award winning Victus Farm operation in the city’s eco-park.
The Petrell Hall centennial celebration in Brimson and a fire safety event in Finland marked the first time I’d visited those communities. Those day-trips made me realize how much more there is to discover in the little towns that dot the northern Minnesota map.
Daniel Alvarez came to Lake County on his way (by kayak) from the Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods County to the Florida Keys. At this writing he is still on the water, but nearing his destination. Another team of paddlers celebrated their recovery from addiction by undertaking a smaller, but equally significant journey of spirit on the Big Lake. The Gordon family departed the North Shore by sailboat for the Caribbean, safely waiting out Hurricane Sandy not far from where homes, business and infrastructure were enduring her wrath.
In the fall, election activity started to heat up on the local, state and national levels. Spirited, sometimes contentious campaigns were run by candidates and by groups concerned with issues like the marriage amendment and voter ID. The News-Chronicle received more letters about the marriage amendment than any other issue and we were gratified to see people exercise their right to engage in the dialogue.
We recently learned about a fund raiser that raised $14,000 to defray medical and travel expenses for a boy in Finland. People from all along the North Shore contributed to the cause. Another boy, this time an 11- year old in Cook County, put himself to the test by taking on a 500 pushup challenge. He took pledges and sought to raise $10,000 for a non-profit that serves post 9/11 veterans. He did over 600 pushups and is nearing his financial goal. Whether it’s kids, adults, locals or visitors who are the subjects of our stories, no one can say that life in a small town is without its share of BIG news.
These are just a handful of the events we’ve covered and people we’ve met this year. The weeks since July when I started as editor, are kind of a blur. There is little time to stop and reflect in this business, but when I do, I realize that each story is, directly or indirectly, about the lives of people. The good and the bad, life and death, loss and victory, it’s all here in the pages of your paper.
Thank you for sharing your stories with us in 2012. Thank you for your encouragement and criticism. We invite you to keep them coming.
Happy New Year, Lake County.