I've loved my time in Rohnert Park. Today, as I announce for the first time publicly that I'll be leaving Rohnert Park Patch, I'm reminded of my first reporting experience.
It was nearly two years ago, on Veterans Day. Yes, of course the first person I interviewed at the Community Center celebration in honor of the holiday was Pete Callinan, Rohnert Park's first and longest-standing city manager. He gripped my hand, cocked his head to the right slightly and asked who in the hell was I.
Callinan immediately followed with a brusk invite to his home to talk about the city's colorful, 50-year history. It's exactly what I needed to start covering a town I knew almost nothing about. A short time later, I'd met the City Council, longstanding members of the community and so many people that today I call my friends. I learned about the issues here, what's important to people and what's changing.
From the Green Music Center, to the controversial, recently-approved casino slated to be built just west of Rohnert Park by the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria, to a unprecended commercial vacancy rate, new housing developments and the city's tangled financial mess — there's so much going on here.
I'm invested in Rohnert Park now. You may have seen me running near Sally Tomatoes or the DoubleTree, at a community event or a fundraiser. Next time you do, come say hi. I want to take a moment to thank you for making me feel at home.
Thank you for speaking to me and working with me. I've invested an amazing amount of hours, energy and even tears in to reporting here. I hope it's made your lives better becasue of it.
And although I've only got a couple weeks left in Rohnert Park, I'm still committed to growing Rohnert Park Patch in to an amazing, useful, innovative community resource that people use daily to stay informed and get thoughtful, balanced and fair information about important issues here.
Starting June 4, Christian Kallen is taking over as guest editor for Rohnert Park Patch. However, my commitment to journalism and work in the public's interest has only increased since coming here. In August, I start a two-year master's in journalism program at U.C. Berkeley. I'll be covering North Oakland, and moving on to projects I've been wanting to do for years.
But I'd like to take this time to ask you what you think. This week, I'll be bringing back some articles I've published that I think represent what the city needs. One daily newspaper can't cover everything — it's impossible. I hope I've made a dent in the city's civic fabric, and helped tell stories about what matters here.
And I also want to know, as Rohnert Park Patch moves on to its new editor, what you'd like to see. What should we cover more deeply? What's not being reported? What is being overlooked? What could I have done better?
Please submit ideas, comments and concerns in the comments below. Over the next couple weeks I'll look over them while we transition to the next editor. We'll use your comments to tailor our coverage. Really, we're here to listen. If you're not comfortable with posting comments and ideas for everyone to see, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Was there a story that you remember, that you loved or hated? Also send those along!
Also, I'll be releasing information on how to stay in touch with me. Stay tuned this week for more. Thanks again. Angela Hart.