From First Steps to Growing Up: Ankeny Patch Turns 1 Year Old This Week (Editor's Notebook)
On July 7, Ankeny Patch is turning a year old. Local Editor Megan VerHelst reflects on the exhilarating ride also called the last 365 days.
My baby’s turning a year old. I know – I can’t believe it either.
I'm not talking about a real baby. What I am talking about is the site you’re on right now, reading (and hopefully enjoying) the latest news affecting this community, perusing the events happening this week and seeing who’s real kid made the honor roll in school.
On July 7, Ankeny Patch is turning a year old.
In that respect, this site really has been my baby. I was tied to it before it even came into existence, I nourished it before it was born and once it was here, I watched as it took its first fumbling steps, steadying as I (and with lots of help from you) watched it learn to stand on its own as it continues to grow every day.
A little over a year ago, I set foot for the first time in this city we know as Ankeny. I’ll admit I’d never been here before the day I came down to start apartment hunting after receiving the phone call offering me the position of local editor at Ankeny Patch.
But almost immediately, and at the risk of sounding horribly cliché, this small-town girl felt at home.
Following three weeks of crazy-intense work, numerous meetings with city officials and leaders and literal sleepless nights, I can’t describe the rush I felt the day they flipped the switch on this site as Ankeny Patch went live just before the start of 2011’s SummerFest.
I had done it. I’d created something from scratch and I just knew this town was going to help me turn it into something big and incredible.
This year has been a ride, to say the very least. I’ve made friends and created relationships I consider so valuable to this site. In turn, I’ve gotten the privilege of watching Ankeny residents find this site and make it their own. I smile when I realize they’ve finally found a place where they can have a conversation, where they can have a voice.
The past year has held so many stories, ones I’ll likely never forget. Some stories have celebrated huge accomplishments and projects, like the Ankeny Kiwanis Miracle League field and East Elementary’s Backpack Buddies program.
Others, however, have been controversial and some painfully sad. I’ll never forget how I felt after hanging up the phone following a conversation with Sara Tourte, the sister of 16-year-old Joe Tourte, who passed away earlier this year after a long battle with health issues. I was honored Sara took the time to share her memories and while it’s one of the toughest parts about this job, I was thankful and grateful she allowed me to share his story.
To me, that’s the best part about this job — your stories and giving you a place to share them.
So thank you, Ankeny Patch readers, for this last year. Thank you for letting me be a part of your story.
Now, let’s party.
I’m planning a big shindig for everyone to help me celebrate this milestone. This isn’t just my accomplishment – it’s yours, too. You helped me turn this site into what it is, so it’s only appropriate you be there. It’ll be after SummerFest, and I’ll keep you posted on the details.
Meanwhile, each day this week I plan to post some of the highlights of the last year, including the best stories, the best photos and even the most talked-about. I hope everyone enjoys this trip across the last 365 days of Ankeny Patch!