Column: Happy Birthday Mendham-Chester Patch!
Your favorite hyper-local news source for the Mendhams and the Chesters turns one today!
What a difference a year makes.
One year ago, with the push of a button (which in my head was actually a series of impressively sparking levers, dials and breakers) Mendham-Chester Patch came online as a news source and community hub.
And my, how we have grown!
In my initial welcome letter, I welcomed the community to our site. And that, really is what Mendham-Chester Patch has become. More than the sum of its parts, it has become a place shaped by those who use it.
Over the course of the last year, a lot has happened. Some of the more popular stories chosen by you, our readers, included:
DOE Data In, Towns Make Next Move on Schools (Video)Mt. Olive Native Remembered as Family Man and Hero
Mendham-Chester Patch jumped in on to the coverage concerning the future of the West Morris Regional School District and the debate over whether it should be broken up. The state Department of Education held an informational meeting for all concerned.
Video: Lockdown Unleashes Fear
Nine months before the shooting in Newtown, police in nearby Hackettstown received a phone call from an alleged gunman causing a school lockdown and a community to panic.
Sign Showdown Set in Chester (Poll)
Chester Borough businessman Charles Wasser went to court to fight for his right to put a sign up in front of his store, Once Upon a Table.
Chester Borough Chief Defends Department
The polarizing issue of what to do with the Chester Borough Police Department brought out high emotions for all involved. After months of what he felt was misinformation being fed to the public, Chester Borough Police Chief Andre Kedrowitsch shared his perspective.
Bus Driver Honored By BOE For Saving The Day
The quick actions of a West Morris Regional bus driver saved not only the children on her bus, but also the driver of the car that struck them, according to police.
Ex-Addict: You Can Live a Productive Life
A state panel held a hearing at the Daytop School in Mendham where they heard testimony from parents of addicts, recovering addicts and officials looking for help in battling the growing drug scourge in New Jersey.
Chester Drug Arrests Up 500% Since 2010, Data Shows
Hot on the heels of the Daytop hearings, a massive spike in drug arrests were reported from Chester, with no change in their enforcement pattern.
Poll: What Next For Larison's Turkey Farm?
The disposition of the Larison’s property has been on the minds of officials and residents for years. Now as the borough moves forward with their visioning process, they asked the community to weigh in.
Resident Killed in Fire, Home Destroyed
A late night kitchen fire at 59 Woodland Road claimed the life of a Mendham Township resident John Beck.
Chris Connors was a Belvidere resident from Budd Lake who died in a tragic car accident in his hometown. Connors left behind a wife, four children and countless friends who loved him.
UPDATE: Pedestrian Killed ID'd as Randolph Teen
A teenager struck and killed by a truck on Route 10 was identified as a Randolph teenager.
Mendham Teen Killed in ATV Accident Laid to Rest
Mendham resident Parker Regan was killed in an ATV accident. His former prep school roommate was charged in the accident and Regan’s friends and family gathered for a memorial service to honor the life of the young man gone too soon.
While all of these stories over the last year made the list of hits, they varied greatly from the stories that I was moved by as an editor. A few of those pieces are:
I had the privilege of sitting with retired Port Authority police officer and World Trade Center hero Will Jimeno as part of a series. The conversation was one that changed me. The first part of the series describes the life Jimeno had before two building collapsed on him.
The second part of my series with Will Jimeno details his experience trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
This story is fascinating because it is about the power of art, activism and one teenager’s brave fight against cancer. These are the stories I feel lucky to come across and I found out about it thanks to a tip from a reader.
This story makes the list because the Governor’s people wanted nothing to do with press at this event. And I was sternly spoken to by his protection detail when I tried to cross the street to get a better photo. What I liked about this story, was it was Chris Christie lending himself to a fundraiser for his community.
This is another memorable team-up between myself and my counterpart in Long Valley. This story was fun for a bunch of reasons. First, it allowed us to interface with a local Chester business whose owner hails from Long Valley. And they created a special cupcake based off of what our readers told us Patch tastes like.
Mendham Township resident Jaime Button is a polarizing member of the West Morris Regional Board of Education. But this story is about his remarkable struggle to return to running after a devastating chainsaw injury. You read that right. A chainsaw injury.
A man from Mendham set out to climb Mt. Everest. No other explanation should be needed.
And of course, no recap of the last year could be complete without mentioning the elephant in the room.
During that storm, our time huddled together in the dark, is where we really got to know one another. And that is reflected on the site in the myriad of stories from the time leading up to the storm to the aftermath and recovery process.
It was during that time where friends and neighbors embraced one another and the true meaning of community was defined.
The first year of Mendham-Chester Patch was an eventful one, and I can't wait to see what comes our way in year two. And I hope you will continue to read, to upload, to interact and engage with us.
And as always, you are always one click away from reaching me, editor Russ Crespolini at any time.
So thanks for being a part of our news conversation. And share your birthday wishes in our comments below!