Covering the news a rewarding experience

Covering the news in New Prague has been a rewarding experience. Each year, when we prepare the Year in Review - which you will find in this week’s edition of the newspaper, it gives us a chance to look at the stories we’ve covered and think about ways in which we can better cover the community.

In looking at the hundreds of stories I personally covered, the one that brought the biggest smile to my face was probably the story on Flavian Weiers’ Honor Flight. Flavian, a Korean War veteran and life-long Union Hill area resident, went on a day-long whirlwind tour of the Washington, DC area, to see all of the military memorials along with a group of other veterans from Minnesota. I’d heard about these honor flights and seen stories on the TV news, but this was the first chance I’d had to hear first-hand from one of the veterans who took part.

The Weiers have a large family, but only one person was allowed to go along with Flavian on this flight, his son Roger accompanied him. However the entire family was at the airport the evening when they returned - including a son who lives in Kansas. The smile on Flavian’s face as he recounted the experience was memorable.

Another favorite story was the story of how the Fourth of July Fireworks show in New Prague came to be. There had been some talk during May and early June that the previous primary sponsor of the Fireworks Show had decided they could not make the commitment of time and money this year. The Times ran a story in early June reporting that there was the possibility of no fireworks show this year. That didn’t sit right with Noah Stephens, an 18-year-old New Prague resident and member of the National Guard. He started an online campaign to raise money for the fireworks, and the New Prague American Legion got behind his efforts. Within a few weeks, a new major sponsor - Jeff Belzer’s Auto, was found and money was raised not only to pay for this year’s show, but also to get a start on fundraising for the 2018 Fireworks.

The story that got the most ink this year had to be the completion of work on the school construction projects at the Central Education Campus, Middle School and Falcon Ridge Elementary. Specifically, the completion of the New Prague Aquatic Center, an addition the CEC building, garnered a lot of attention. Having grown up in this community and having seen several proposals for indoor pools being turned down by voters, it was incredible to see the final product that was nearly 50 years in the making. The new aquatic center has now been open for six months and has seen steady use by members of the community and beyond. Yes, the community will be paying for this asset for years, but it will also be an asset that will give back to the community in many ways.

Of course, one of my favorite things to cover is Trojan sports. while 2017 may not have been as successful as past seasons in terms of post-season success, there was plenty to cheer about. The boys basketball team, baseball team and softball team all had good seasons that took them far into the post-season, and New Prague’s Woodrow Glazier claimed a state championship in clay target shooting. The adapted floor hockey team made another trip to the state tournament, and there were state qualifiers in track, wrestling and cross country as well.

These were just a few of the many stories I had the chance to write about in 2017. As we prepare for 2018, I’m looking forward to sharing even more stories in the coming year.

Happy New Year to all!

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