In 2018, I …
watched a man’s reaction as a jury acquitted him of rape for the second year in a row; outlined tumor profiling for cancer patients; recalled the familiar voice of a late radio personality and “morning man”; sequenced officials’ plans for a new jail; documented raised right hands and left hands on bibles; logged the career of a long-time clerk of courts; explored community libraries with kids; reported Influenza and West Nile cases; witnessed the county’s first application of Goddard’s Law; stepped into the workshops of a glass-maker and a painter-portraitist; tuned into a jazz master and masters-in-making; publicized the Take Flight Initiative and the push to build a new career center; heard residents plead for new commission meeting rules; chronicled the great courtroom debate; recorded a fire and a snowfall; and on an eerie anniversary, counted splintered barns and uprooted trees.
I commended the work of Family Violence Prevention Center and Interfaith Hospitality Network; eyed 1,421 blue pinwheels spinning in the wind; remembered a beloved country veterinarian; previewed a primary election; covered cases that began with a hotel murder; attended a “ham”’s convention of a lifetime; dodged parents’ lenses at commencement ceremonies; honored lost souls in a hot cemetery on Memorial Day; met the newest crime fighter, a sheriff’s K-9 named Auco; snapped fireworks falling over my hometown; petted cats and dogs at Greene County Animal Care and Control; climbed a fire escape to jail-top after an inmate fled; scanned dozens of old Gazette articles proving truth to “land of the devil wind”; flipped through countless photos from the historical society; and had a 2-hour cup of coffee with the Father of the Bike Path.
I relived my 4-H days at the fair, interviewing rabbits, hogs, goats, dogs, cows and horses — er, their young showmen; flashed my press pass for LANCO with utter glee; ate authentic Indian festival food; toured a shiny new Greene County Public Health building; walked through gardens for adults with developmental disabilities; reminded residents about aggregation programs; observed a once-House candidate’s arraignment; wrote “murder” too many times on my case white board; listened to a human trafficking survivor’s story; and cheered military men and women across a finish line Sept. 11.
I detailed the start of a capital trial’s jury selection, after 19 months and 3 weeks of anticipation; only to sit across from the eldest as he pleaded guilty to murdering two; then sat across from his brother — the same age as me — as he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter; listened to families choke through aloud-letters to the two; and watched as one brother stared silently ahead, and the other bowed his head, and nodded.
I got stung under-eye while interviewing a 12-year-old beekeeper; left my notebook at home to watch the face of the newest governor-elect as he realized his fate, at 10:47 on Nov. 6 night; stood in my old school as parents urged officials to hire a School Resource Officer; saw the light switch flip, illuminating Clifton Mill for my very first time; sat through jury trials in both Common Pleas courtrooms, tallying one more hung jury for my record; told sexual assault survivors that people care; dropped in on commissioners handing oversized checks to municipalities; watched MedFlight take off from a cornfield too close to home; photographed a boy’s face as he found out his wish through sign language; and caught the retiring-county engineer on the phone before Christmas.
In 2018 I celebrated my 2-year Gazette anniversary, and wished the paper a Happy 150th Birthday!; answered “Newsroom, this is Anna” too many times than I’d prefer; raised my eyes above my computer screen to shake my head at Scott jokes; ate many 3 p.m. desk lunches across from Whitney; thanked my editor for that time she hired me as a college summer intern (thanks!); reluctantly penned a few columns; covered both sides of a dozen-or-so reporter notebooks with scrawls; and lost all my pens. But not my mind.
Here’s to filling my notebook drawer even fuller in 2019.
Anna Bolton is a reporter and columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.