I've known for about two weeks that my days in Yorkville are numbered.
I received a job offer in DeKalb that held so much promise for growth and adventure, exploration and good, fun journalism that I knew it would be a mistake to decline it. Leaving a place and a job that made you happy isn't easy, but everyone needs new challenges to keep growing. So today is my last day as editor of Yorkville Patch.
As I started writing lists for guest editor Alex Keown, who jumps in with both feet Monday, I started thinking about all the things that don't fit in neat bullet points.
Could I explain to him how the disappointment of the playground being removed at Bicentennial Riverfront Park faded with new businesses opening in city buildings? How it was a little funny to watch city staff string a red ribbon across the whitewater course so Mayor Gary Golinski and other leaders could host a ribbon-cutting from an inflated raft? And how organizers just didn't expect the excellent turnout at the inaugural Ribs on the River festival this summer? I have a feeling great things are in store for our riverfront.
Did I need to tell him how the community that grappled so strongly with building bike trails along major thoroughfares founded a PADS program that is entering its third season? Or that while city leaders tersely discussed increasing property taxes in the face of a strained budget, some residents rushed to open their church as an emergency shelter for stranded motorists last year?
I'm sure Alex, who spent seven years covering state and local politics for daily newspapers in North Carolina before taking on a number of roles at Patch, will see what makes Yorkville special.
Yorkville Patch itself has grown so much in just under two years, with active bloggers, community contributions to photo galleries and a rousing, sometimes rambunctious comments section. I hope you'll continue contributing to this little online community, and if you haven't yet, that you'll consider posting an event in our calender, adding a press release to our announcements section, or starting a blog of your own.
I also struggled a bit trying to explain how much Yorkville Patch and Yorkville has meant to me. Journalism isn't always easy. It's not easy to write articles you know will hurt people, as political pieces and court stories often do. Yet, the bad and the complicated are as much as part of life here as the good and the uplifting. And, for the first time in my career, it also was part of my job to give back to the community, which I did by helping organize the Yorkville Area Chamber of Commerce's River Night and participating in several other events.
As I tried to find the right words, I kept remembering an impromptu speech Maria Spaeth, executive director of the Kendall County Food Pantry, gave a few months after Yorkville Patch launched in December 2010. As she accepted a community award in February 2011, she said very simply: "I am blessed by you."
And so am I. Thank you. Cheers to you, Yorkville.