Mt. Pleasant is the first town where I created a home all of my own.
I moved here just shy of two years ago — August 2017 — to start my first journalism job after graduating college. My first assignment was a story about Michael Gossen as he took on being principal of both Harlan and Salem elementary schools. I arrived at Harlan Elementary School half an hour early and sat in my parked car until I felt like I could walk into the school and show up an acceptable amount of time early. I was so nervous.
There was absolutely no reason for nerves, however, as Gossen chatted with me about his goals for the elementary schools, his passion for education and the childhood that prepared him for the position he currently holds.
While I was writing the story later that day, I realized it was the first time I had ever really been paid to write. I wrote for my high school newspaper, was editor of my college newspaper, and interned with a couple of media organizations, but none of those positions paid a livable, real wage.
Writing on the clock felt like great privilege.
I have learned a lot since that day — about journalism, reporting, writing and you.
I felt the heavy hand of justice as a man was finally convicted in the spring of 2018 of murdering Elizabeth Syperda, a Mt. Pleasant resident who disappeared almost 20 years ago. I mourned with you as 32 men were arrested for being undocumented residents in this country, taken from their families and their community. I celebrated the news that the board of Hillcrest Family Services reversed their decision to close the mental health facility in Mt. Pleasant earlier this month.
But it’s the days where I got to tell the stories of my friends, neighbors and fellow southeast Iowans are the reason I fell in love with this small town. That is the pulse of Mt. Pleasant — from Main Street Mt. Pleasant events where I met so many of you for the first time to covering stories in the Mt. Pleasant Community School District to school board meetings, city council meetings, county supervisors meetings and more. You welcomed me in and gave me a story to tell.
There have been a lot of changes since I began working for the Mt. Pleasant News. The editor of the News, Karyn Spory, took on a new challenge of being editor of both the Mt. Pleasant News and the Washington Evening Journal. We gained new writers and lost some along the way. The Mt. Pleasant News moved to a new office (hello, 119 West Monroe Street) and launched a new website (peep us at mpnews.net and washjrnl.com). And every day, we come to work ready to serve our community.
I’m burying the lede here, but I think it’s because I am not quite ready to say goodbye. This is my last column. I’m proud to say I was promoted to be a general assignment reporter with The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, which is the parent newspaper to The Mt. Pleasant News and Washington Journal.
You will still see me around Mt. Pleasant for another few weeks as we introduce a new reporter to Mt. Pleasant. And with such good friends here, I am sure I will be back to visit often.
Thank you to everyone who met me in a coffee shop, welcomed me into their home, stopped by the News office or picked up their phone for an interview. Thank you for giving me second chances and letting me earn your trust. Thank you to everyone who was vulnerable with me and trusted me with their story.