It is with a heavy heart that I tell you today is my last day as the editor of the Merrick Patch.
Before taking the reins from previous editor, Ryan Bonner, I didn't know much about Merrick. I had only lived a few minutes away from Merrick my entire life, but to me, Merrick was just a stop on the LIRR.
I had to learn quickly and after my first Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District school board meeting, I knew that being able to step into Ryan's shoes would be tough, but I could do it.
My time in Merrick has given me a whole new perspective on life. It taught me how important it is to get involved in the community in which you live and it taught me how the voice of a few could make a huge difference when those few came together. It showed me how important local commerce is and how everyone helps each other out in a community.
It also blessed me with so many opportunities – wonderful and maybe not so wonderful – that I would not have had if I didn't take this job. I got to welcome a solider home from war with an entire community; I chased a pit bull around Merrick for two weeks and was rewarded with having my photos used on NBC's nightly news; I was there when a car crashed into Fayette School unexpectedly; I was able to meet a childhood favorite, Kristi Yamaguchi; I was able to make a connection with a famous author; I got to meet people that spend their own time trying to make a difference for strangers; I met business owners trying to make their way in the community; I was able to cover Hurricane Irene and the effects it had on Merrick – including no power for one week!
I covered stories that really matter to the people that live here. Not to mention the amount of fires, accidents and other emergencies that kept me on my toes for the past 20 months. I think the schools have been a lockdown a record amount of times since I started!
However, all of my blood, sweat and tears would not be possible without so many Merokeans that always came to my rescue. Although I cannot thank everyone by name, there are a few people who really went above and beyond. Thank you James Allen, Ron Luparello, Michelle Gagnon, Joe Baker, Berta Weinstein, Alan Jaspar, Neil Yeoman, Claudia Borecky, David Feller, Beth Friedman, Joanne Long, Dr. Matthew Kuschner, the entire North Merrick School Board and administration, Lissa Zuckoff, Howard Merims, Ronald Reinken, Laura Leudesdorff, Trish Apello, Jennifer Pleva, Jessica Habar, Heather and Chris Randell, Doug Marchese, Jacki Binder, Ann Parry, Diane Walhoff, Jen Smith, Ellen Firer, Tom Witt, Cathy O'Malley, Mimi Wanderman and Randy Shotland.
But I didn't do this all by myself. I had a committed bunch of freelancers that helped me along the way and I have to give a special shoutout to my wonderful contractor and right-hand man, Chris Boyle. In addition, I need to thank all of the local editors in Nassau, associate regional editor and former Bellmore editor, Mathew Hogan, and regional editor and also former Bellmore editor, Jaime Sumersille. All of you have always been there for support, to answer questions and to help me tackle the hardest assignments. You all helped me develop into the very best LE I could be.
That being said, I am pleased to announce that East Meadow local editor, Michael Ganci, will be taking his place as the editor of Merrick Patch on Monday.
Michael has covered some of the toughest stories out there and he is a local editor with a heart as big as Mount Kilimanjaro. He broke the news about the EMT worker shot in Bellmore; he followed a story on a stomach virus outbreak in East Meadow that took days for the schools to address and he really just cares about the places he covers. I know that he will be able to carry the torch just fine.
As I have said 'goodbye' to the people around town, I have been so touched by the kind words you have all spoken. All of the times that I heard 'good luck!', 'we'll miss you!', and 'you really made a difference to us!" have meant so much and all the hugs I have gotten made me feel like I was part of something great.
I am so grateful for this experience, Merrick, as I know that Ryan Bonner was and Michael Ganci will be. You all are extraodinary people.
Now, as I move on in my career, I will be commuting to New York City every day, passing Merrick on the train as I go. All of you will always be in my head and my heart, and Merrick will never be just a stop on the LIRR again. I will miss you all dearly.