A little more than a year ago, I took over as editor of Pleasanton Patch. And on Day Two, I had to write about .
It was one of the most heartbreaking stories I've encountered in my 12 years as a journalist. I sat in his parents' kitchen, and they cried and graciously discussed their son with me — me, a perfect stranger. I am always so humbled by the things people are willing to share with reporters in such horrible, hopeless situations. I've always said that if it were me, I'm not sure I could be that strong. It gives me goosebumps just talking about it, and I don't know that I've ever had a chance to say publicly how much these stories touch us as journalists. But they do, they really do.
His story was so sad, of course, but I also remember the outpouring of love that came out of this community — the notes and prayers people sent to his parents and brother, the discussions about things people could do to help, etc. There was also talk about how to talk to middle schoolers about what happened — a lot of people saw his death as a chance to speak to their kids about depression and what to do when things get tough. He was so very young.
Even today, when I'm out and about, people talk about Joey; his name hangs in the ether. His passing had a deep impact on this community, and on me as a person. No matter where I am in my life or what I'm doing, I will never, ever forget him.
My Patch life hasn't all been sad, though.
A couple months after I got here, I was put in charge of the coverage. There, I covered a Guinness World Record attempt — fair organizers set out to cook the . It weighed in at a grease-tastic 777 pounds (Yum? Ick?). And it took a year, but I heard a few weeks ago that the results were certified and the record is now official.
People ask me all the time if I ate any, and I have to say that I didn't, but I know people who did and they said it tasted like ... burger. So that's good, right? Alas, there will be no world record attempt at this year's fair — that was a one-time thing.
There's no way I can list every story that I loved. But some of my highlights were: talking to kids in line for and movies (the quotes are hilarious), , and meeting , who inspired me with their positivity and bravery in a less-than-ideal life situation. I'll never forget them.
There were also , in schools, a , and who can forget .
We had some sad stories, too, in addition to Joey Ferrara.
In early May, 37-year-old Amy Freeman Burton and her 13-year-old daughter Ainsley Freeman ; police have still not issued a statement on what happened. Patch will continue to look into this.
And then in late May, police found a , and the community rallied together to help figure out who this young woman was. We still don't know, but we're calling her Pleasanton's Jane Doe, and we've created a special Facebook page for her.
Months before that, Pleasanton police on suspicion of stabbing 14-year-old Tina Faelz to death as she walked home from school back in the 1980s. The case had languished in the cold case category for years, but some determined detectives kept on it, and that hard work yielded new DNA evidence. That was a huge story in Pleasanton, bringing up all the feelings people had back when it happened, and we tried to do our best with the coverage.
Carlson's case is still in the pre-trial stages, and Pleasanton Patch will continue to cover this story.
They always say a story is only as good as its sources, and so I want to thank people who invited me into their lives for interviews, and people who shared news tips and article suggestions with me. Thanks also for commenting on our stories and otherwise engaging with this relatively new website.
I became pretty close to members of the community, and to Pleasanton Patch's freelancers and bloggers (I can't think too much about this part, or I'll tear up). I will miss them. Also, the editors at Patch are some of the most passionate, caring and talented people I've ever met. We're really lucky to have them.
And now, I'll say goodbye. After more than a decade in journalism, I'm making the move to the corporate world. I've loved being a journalist, and am sad to leave it, but I am also excited about what's ahead.
Lastly, I want to say thank you, Pleasanton, for welcoming me. I'll miss you.
My last day is Thursday, June 21. After that, readers should contact Dublin Editor Autumn Johnson with questions, concerns or story ideas. She'll be taking over Pleasanton Patch in the interim. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.