What’s important to you?
It was a year of transition for The Messenger newsroom in 2019.
We said goodbye to our editor, Jane Curtis, who had led the staff since 2015.
I am grateful for her contributions. She worked to develop our skills. She challenged us to do better and look harder. We wish her well in her retirement.
Peter Kaspari and Joe Sutter, two reporters with 15 years of combined journalism experience, left the paper to pursue different opportunities.
We welcomed two new reporters — Kelby Wingert, a Fort Dodge native, and Elijah Decious, who brought his talents from Storm Lake.
Bill Shea stepped into the role of editor. And I became the paper’s city editor.
Some of the faces have changed. Some of our roles are different.
But our mission of accurately informing our readers and entertaining them is the same. It’s a mission that has persisted since this newspaper’s establishment in 1856.
In 2019, we saw the Sears store, which opened next to Crossroads Mall in 1964, demolished. We wrote about the plans to redevelop the mall as new owners consider a new vision for the site.
We reported on the tragic death of one of our beloved pastors, the Rev. Al Henderson, who was killed outside of his own church — St. Paul Lutheran.
And we were there for the celebration of his life.
Henderson was a frequent visitor to our newsroom and several staff members considered him a friend.
In 2019, we covered city elections. We witnessed Tanner King’s murder trial.
We watched as new public art, called the Chronicle, was installed in the city’s downtown.
We greeted presidential candidates as they made campaign stops in our coverage area.
We wrote about the rise of the Lotus Community Project, a homeless shelter for women and children led by Ashley Vaala.
We tackled the complex issue of mental health in our community with the help of health care professionals and those who have lived with a mental health condition themselves.
We were there when a party was thrown for Maureen Yetmar, a longtime tenant at the Deer Creek Apartments.
We were there when Corky Banwell helped to ensure her Dodger classmates celebrated their 65th class reunion.
We saw the last Mass at Sacred Heart Church, which was formally dedicated in 1922. And we heard the echoes and acoustics when the Iowa Central Community College choir performed in the empty church.
We interviewed local heroes Greg Loehr and Ryan Cripe on the day they were presented with Governor’s Lifesaving awards at the State Capitol.
We flew with military veterans like Ron Chitwood, of Fort Dodge, on the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight to see their war memorials in Washington, D.C.
We got to see the smile on Cheryl Trunnell’s face as she got a hug from Wesley Lyftogt, her “favorite student ever” on Trunnell’s last day of teaching at Cooper Elementary School.
We were there for many moments that defined us as a community in 2019. But we also understand there were stories we may have missed. And in 2020, we want to do better and look harder.
As our staff embarks on 2020, we want to hear from our readers about the stories you would like to see covered in the new year.
Please don’t hesitate to let us know about what’s important to you through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 515-573-2141 or mail 713 Central Ave., Fort Dodge, IA 50501.
Chad Thompson is city editor of The Messenger.