I am still pinching myself every morning.
For at least a decade I have been dreaming about getting a job that would allow me to focus on and investigative journalism, but newspapers across the country aren't investing in this form of journalism. My dream was clouded by the failures of this industry to stay afloat in a digital age.
This is why I still feel like I am in a dream when I was offered a job with a nonprofit investigative journalism center in downtown Buffalo, NY.
I am a New York native and spent all of my childhood and college years in upstate New York. I attended a state university near Buffalo and most of my family lives in the Fingerlakes Region. My niece and nephew grew up without me and I missed too many Christmas holidays and family gatherings. It was time to come back home.
Leaving Fredericksburg is bittersweet. I came here in 2006 to work as the Spotsylvania Government reporter for the Free Lance-Star and really enjoyed that job. After six years in this community, it was finally starting to feel like home.
What will I miss most? I'll miss my regular visits to Bistro Bethem, where I couldn't get away from talking business because local politicos would always show up, too (I secretly always want to talk business). I will miss kayaking the Rapphannock River, although I wonder if the river will host kayakers much longer with the low water levels and the arguably serious dredging that needs to happen soon. I will miss my regular walks up and down Caroline Street, biking to assignments, the local live music and arts scene and the good people I have befriended here.
put Fredericksburg Patch on the map in this community. Within a day, the Fredericksburg Patch Facebook page went from 700 "likes" to 1,700. Today, an incredible 2,613 people visit the page. Your kindness and appreciation made all of the hard work worth it. You may never know how rewarding it was for me to read all of the kind comments.
My experiences in Fredericksburg made me a better—and stronger—person. I left a better man. And I sense the happiest days of my life are before me.
I will miss you all so much. We were a great team.
Be sure to pick up this month's version of the Front Porch for my exit interview.
A few parting thoughts:
: Although it would be much, much, much better if the local leaders could attract a AAA MLB affiliate, the independent league is the second best thing. You are less likely to find up-and-coming MLB stars in this independent league, but having a nice stadium nearby that can handle hundreds of other events, including live concerts, is a draw I would have supported. If they can prove the economics of it that benefits the region, then go for it.
Fredericksburg Courthouse: I really don't think it will be a big box in the middle of downtown. When it's all said and done, it will fit in just like the downtown hotel has on Caroline Street. But what really ruffled my feathers was hearing certain elected leaders argue that this was a transparent process just because they've been talking about it for almost six years. That's not transparency and local residents deserve better. There's no doubt that the courthouse project has been discussed many times during open meetings. But when it came time to make the final decision, That is bad government and shame on you for keeping it secret.
Fredericksburg has a problem with homelessness and poverty that is getting ignored by those who could actually do something about it. As Vice he will need community support. The few organizations serving this population cannot do it alone. . More people need to step up to the plate.
Make sureandfollow through with the performing arts center and securing more funding for the arts in the city. They can do it and they need your support.