I suspect it’s the cop/fireman/cowboy/astronaut/ball player fascination of an eternal boyhood that influences this selection.
In 2017, City Blog posted more than 250 bits of content. I was the culprit for a good many of those. There were stories that followed our mission of transparency in government. There were stories that help and remind residents – OK, guys, one more time: remember to put leaves and yard debris in big bags and cans and leave at the curb – of government service. There were stories of so many new initiatives, new neighbors and new facilities – from bike paths to the Huntsville Aquatics Center to BOCAR – and a series following new cops through Police Academy.
However, as I look back at the collection, the ones I most fondly recall are the stories of people and groups who do good work, often with little fanfare. And they lean a little to cops and firefighters, especially considering that three other cops and firemen stories just missed the cut.
So, please indulge this year’s-end reflection – it’s part introspection, part cliché that many writers engage in as December drips away – of my 10 favorite City Blog posts of 2017, in random order. Hope you’ll take a moment to be introduced – or reintroduced – to these folks.
Sense of community brought Turkessa Coleman to Huntsville, and now she’s creating one herself
Not long after this ran, Turkessa was talking to my wife. She said, “He made me sound pretty cool in this story,” Turkessa said. It’s because you are, Turkessa.
Falling in love … with the Lombardo Building
Jessica White, our former Historic Preservationist, had me seeing things architecturally I’d never paid attention to in two decades. I still don’t know whether to thank her or be angry. But here is a case in point, having noticed the big white letters of the Lombardo Building one day.
I spent my morning in a garbage truck. Here’s what I learned
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a garbage man. I got to at least experience the role, thanks to David Sloan. Riding shotgun in an uncomfortable seat, one day was enough. But the “glamour” of the job has been taken over by high-tech equipment.
Spotlight: A Crimson ride through 566 consecutive Alabama games for City’s Tommy Ray
Alabama’s College Football Playoff game against Clemson will make it 576 Tide games in a row for Tommy Ray, dating back to 1972. A fan who isn’t a fanatic. I’ve loved telling his story through the years, as I did in City Blog in September. He’s seen games in 24 different states and 53 different stadiums, seen Alabama post a 457-140-4 record in the games he’s attended and if Bama beats Clemson, he’ll head off to the 10th game he will have seen that determined a national champion.
Riptide rescue: Quick actions by an off-duty Huntsville firefighter praised as heroic
Sometimes, you just can’t figure fate. Huntsville firefighter Josh Shumate was at the right place at the right time to save a young man from drowning.
Spotlight: Meet Jackie Wilson, Artist & Recreation Center Aide
Jackie Wilson is a recreation specialist at Dr. Richard Showers Center, a former college volleyball player and an incredible artist. She’s been instrumental in exposing many youngsters to art and trying to cultivate their talents. I wrote about Jackie when she had an exhibition of her stunning work – done with home-improvement-style spray paint — at the Huntsville library.
Spotlight: Meet Willie Hereford of the Sparkman Homes Residents Council
Council Member Devyn Keith wanted me to meet Willie Hereford, one of the community leaders at the Sparkman Homes. I spent an hour on Mr. Hereford’s porch on a hot spring afternoon, then tried to cram 84 years of living and 10,000 words’ worth of material into 750 words.
Ridealong with HPD’s new Anti-Crime team
I’ve got to admit, sitting outside with the unpredictability of a suspect peeking through the window can get your heart racing. Riding along for a day with Sgt. Terry Lucas and his anti-crime task force gave me new appreciation for the work, danger and, yes, nuisances of being a cop.
Giving back: Phoenix makes American flags but it creates opportunities
We’ve started profiling various “good corporate citizens,” various companies and organizations that have given back to the community, from Toyota’s grand generosity to Aegis’ role in Special Olympics. But none feel quite as appropriate as to write about as Phoenix, one of the nation’s largest makers of burial flags, on Veterans Week.
Spotlight: Danny Brazleton of Handi-Ride
Every time I see a Handi-Ride van, I look to see if Danny Brazelton is at the wheel. A self-made man who is minister and DJ as well as driver, Danny is a blinding ray of sunshine. For the people who ride with Danny, every day has to feel a little bit like Christmas.