LebTown’s most important stories of 2019, handpicked by our newsroom

4 min read597 views and 11 shares Posted December 23, 2019

It’s hard to believe the work week is winding down before it’s even begun. As for your favorite LebTown writers, we’re all getting ready to punch out early, congratulate each other on a successful second year, and head out for a week-long holiday hiatus.

But we can’t close out 2019 without a bit of reminiscing. So, before the digital office lights were dimmed, before our reporters made their final press office inquiries, and before the original edits to this story were lost because one editor decided to open 400 Chrome tabs, we asked LebTown reporters to do something all writers notoriously despise: show off.

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Below, you’ll find each member of newsroom sharing the LebTown story (or series of stories) that they were most proud to have published in 2019 – and, in their own words, why.

Joshua Groh, Reporter

Editor’s note: Josh is LebTown’s in-house historian and on-the-scene photographer/reporter. He’s an incredibly gifted young journalist moonlighting as a college student (or vice versa?). Josh’s capacity for storytelling perfectly complements his passion for local history. In fact, more counties need a Josh Groh. We’d be remiss not to mention his important work developing our burgeoning membership program.

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Josh: This was a question that I personally wanted to find an answer for, and I think many in the community have also wondered why choices like these were originally made and how they still impact us. Thanks to a very helpful talk with the Planning Department, I was able to put this article together and dive into the complex reasoning behind one of Lebanon’s well-known quirks.
Josh: It’s not news that the county has a number of unused industrial buildings sprinkled throughout its towns. But stories about community members who seek to transform these spaces into new destinations are much more exciting. I loved seeing this vision for this building and I was proud of the fact that our reporting could spur early interest in the project.
Josh: I love learning about buildings with a lot of character, and the Samler (or Nutting) Building was no exception. Ironically, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I began to recognize the building for the icon it really is, and digging through the newspaper archives confirmed that its history lives up to its well-deserved place in the city skyline.
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Emily Bixler, Reporter

Editor’s note: Emily undoubtedly has a long, promising journalism career ahead of her, and we’re glad to give her writing a home at LebTown while the Lebanon native studies in Boston. Emily knows when to use data and raw information to drive a story home, but her real skill lies in recognizing the importance of people in every compelling narrative.

Emily: This article highlighted the volunteer efforts of Lebanon residents cleaning up the Union Canal Tunnel Park after a damaging storm. It’s the type of story that I believe makes local journalism so important: it offers a glimpse of real people working to make their community better. I also grew up near the Union Canal, and spent a lot of time there as a kid. In a sense, writing this article allowed me to give back to it.
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Chris Coyle, Reporter

Editor’s note: Chris may be a retired barrister, but we believe he’s found his true second calling as a reporter: Like every good reporter, Chris’ sharp instinct for a good angle is sharpened further by his knowledge of the systems and community he’s reporting on, from the Palmyra Christmas tree mystery to the months-long Cedar Haven saga, which he details below. Look forward to seeing much more Chris Coyle in 2020.

Chris: I’m proudest of the series of stories we published (and there will likely be more) on the aftermath of the County’s sale of Cedar Haven to a private operator, and the operator’s subsequent bankruptcy filing.
Chris: I hope our coverage quelled rumors that the bankruptcy would lead to the facility’s closing and elderly residents being put on the street.
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Davis Shaver, Publisher

Editor’s note: LebTown is only possible because of Davis’ relentless work ethic, unending patience, and complete dedication to providing Lebanon with a trustworthy, friendly, and reliable community news outfit. From writing and editing to managing assignments and developing the site you’re scrolling through right now, the man wears many hats. For that, we are all grateful.

Picking my favorite story! Oh, that’s hard… There were so many that I enjoyed writing and sharing with our readers.

There were a couple historical pieces that stood out to me – I never knew about the Mt. Gretna Farmers’ Encampment, the predecessor to the Farm Show. Discovering an unexpected connection Lebanon while visiting Key West, FL was another memorable story for me.

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I had a lot of fun getting cover Christian Pulisic, from his land acquisition in Lebanon County in late 2018 to his incredible hat trick in the Premier League this past fall. One of my favorite headlines ever:

But when I think about the story that I’m most proud to have written, it is our articles about our own police blotter feature.

When we originally began publishing the blotter, we redacted all names, because we knew that when we began publishing names it was a decision that we had to take seriously and be prepared to live with indefinitely. Our readers were patient and they embraced our offer to provide feedback on how we should handle the police blotter. We ended up with a policy that I think strikes a good balance between individual privacy and the right of the public to know what’s happening in their community.

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What were your favorite LebTown stories in 2019? What made them memorable to you? We would love to hear from you! Send a message to our newsroom using the form below.

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