When I became the Waukesha reporter five years ago, my knowledge on the community was limited.
I grew up in the Milwaukee area and went to college at nearby UW-Whitewater, but admittedly I didn't know much about Waukesha. As a tennis player in high school, I knew the mascots of the area schools but didn't know the ins-and-outs of the state's seventh largest city, who the movers and shakers were and what stories were waiting to be uncovered.
But I learned quickly and soon felt a strong connection with this community.
I jumped in right away. One of my first assignments was to get up to speed and write about Waukesha's application for Great Lakes water, a major issue that I would cover many times since 2011.
If there was one thing I also quickly learned about the people here was the passion they have for their community. Over time, I, too, developed a passion for this section of Waukesha County.
That's why I'm going to miss covering the people, the events and the issues of the city and town of Waukesha.
I recently accepted a position as our newsroom's digital editor and social media manager. My role will be to manage the online aspects of our combined newsrooms at Lake Country Publications and NOW Newspapers, which operates 27 websites across suburban Milwaukee and Waukesha County. I will also lead our newsroom's efforts to reach a wider audience on various social media outlets and spearhead innovative and interactive ways to tell our stories online.
As the journalism field continues to evolve, digital and social media is an area in which I have a great interest and one in which I'm looking forward to learning more about.
Throughout my time so far with the newspaper company, I have held multiple positions here. After interning in 2010 in the sports department, I returned a year later for a full-time position in which, in addition to reporting, I was also a sports copy editor, helped write features for our Brookfield-Elm Grove publication and, for the last two years, served as editor of the Mukwonago Chief.
The one constant in these five years was Waukesha.
That's why it was tough to pull me away from this beat. There was never a dull moment and always something interesting to report on.
After all, Waukesha has been home to some big stories, especially on the political front in recent years — from Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney's appearance at the Waukesha County Expo Center on a hot summer day in 2012, to President Barack Obama coming here, to Gov. Scott Walker announcing he was running to be the next president.
On a more somber note, there was the Slender Man stabbing, a court case that I've spent numerous hours covering at the Waukesha County Courthouse, and other recent homicides that shook up the city. And over the last five years, reporting on Waukesha's fire chief situation, the Waukesha County Museum saga, some long nights at town of Waukesha meetings, as well as all of the happenings in downtown have also kept me busy and intrigued about what will come next here.
I also became quite interested in the development landscape in Waukesha. I'll take great interest in continuing to follow what the future holds for Waukesha's city hall, shopping centers and, of course, downtown.
I'm thankful for the people who have given their time for interviews over the years and putting a trust in me to share their story, especially when I wrote about those who were battling cancer. Through their experiences, from a 16-year-old successful high school band member, to a longtime high school football coach, to Waukesha County's top elected official, I further realized cancer can hit anyone. But I also realized these people's strength.
Waukesha's new reporter isn't unknown to Waukesha. Steve Martinez, who has written for our Oconomowoc publication the last couple of years, is taking over my reporting beat. He went to Carroll University and his byline might sound familiar since he has covered some courts for Waukesha Now as well.
Looking back at the last five years, I'm happy I had the opportunity to help grow this publication, which is still relatively in its infancy. The time has sure gone fast, but that's probably because this community was so much fun to cover and be apart of.