Belleville, it’s been a heck of a ride


Welcome to WordPress. This As Editor in Chief Kevin Werner said in his column, the final print edition of the Belleville Lake Current hit newsstands on March 6.

In the almost three years since joining The Current, I have transitioned from a freelancer (days before graduating with a degree in journalism) to the paper’s managing editor. During that time, I’ve come to appreciate the community I’ve covered and the people who make it such a unique place.

The first meeting I ever attended for the paper was a Belleville Planning Commission meeting. I remember driving down Main Street trying to get a feel for the town that I had signed on to cover. Imagine my surprise when I pulled into the parking lot of city hall and found the parking lot packed with cars. Walking into the standing-room-only meeting, I barely squeezed through the door and found a corner of a desk to use as a seat.

I had covered a couple of local governments by this point through an internship and most communities had sparse attendance for board of trustee/city council meetings, let alone planning commission meetings.

I would soon learn that the community only attended meetings in such numbers when there was a controversial subject up for discussion (in this case, the Belleville Yacht Club’s presentation of their proposed Liberty Street clubhouse), and although I rarely saw that same level of turnout at later meetings, it was the first, best, example that the community certainly participated in their government more than most.

Since that meeting, I have worked hard to try and give the community the best reporting that I could. I hope that those who read my stories found them informative and, at least somewhat, interesting. I always tried to be fair and give both sides to any disagreement without unfairly elevating a minority viewpoint.

I firmly believe that the role of a journalist is not only to inform the public but also to explain and provide context to the news they are reporting. As I’ve told the interns that the paper has been lucky to work with, their job is to take the fairly complex inner workings of local government and present it in a way that the average person can understand without much background knowledge all while finding a way to make those stories interesting.
In the course of working for the paper, I’ve met many people who were kind enough to take the time to help me do my job.

While I have more people to thank than I could possibly list here, I want to make special mention of several people. Belleville City Manager Diana Kollmeyer, Belleville City Clerk Treasurer Lisa Long, Belleville’s Downtown Development Authority Administrator Carol Thompson, Pam Johnson, Kathy Kovach and Angela Stroud and everyone else in the Van Buren Public School district who was always helpful when I needed to double check or clarify something.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the Current ownership team, my boss Kevin Werner, his wife Lori and Bob Thorne, for seeing some potential in me, hiring me on and later promoting me. It’s not often that one can claim to be the managing editor of a newspaper three years out of journalism school, so I’m forever grateful for the opportunity and the trust they showed when they turned the reigns of their project over to me.
While I don’t know what my future holds, the tricommunity area has left its mark on me and I suspect I will someday find my way your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

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