Top 10 Lutherville-Timonium Stories of 2010
A countdown of my most enjoyable stories to write from my first year with Patch.
You don't get into this business because you love working long hours, enjoy being strung out on a pot of cheap coffee or feel validated when someone important calls you back.
We do it because we love being reporters, editors, photographers or whatever other job entails spreading the news. I actually delivered newspapers in college, much to the dismay of my two-door Acura's suspension.
I love telling stories and keeping people informed about what is going on. I crave the thrill of a breaking news story. I smile along with my readers if what I write is entertaining.
It is with that in mind that I share with you, my dear readers, the top 10 stories that most enjoyed covering this year—my first year with Lutherville-Timonium Patch.
10) After posting this story, coworkers berated me for a "tough day at the office." If you take a look at the photos I snapped from a bikini competition at Padonia Station, you'll understand why this comes in at No. 10. (But I could've done without the jeering and cat-calling from a few lewd audience members.)
9) Jeff Lindelof has a fascinating story. For a cup of hot chocolate and a pack of strawberry flavored Pop Tarts, he'll gladly share it with you. Lindelof lives under a bridge and is one of the growing number of homeless people in Baltimore County. I enjoyed telling Lindelof's story because so often we write off people like him. We make assumptions about how and why their lives came to panhandling on the side of York Road for spare change. I like digging into people's lives, and I wish Jeff well in the new year. (Side note: Jeff says he likes winters more, despite not having much of a roof over his head. He has a stack of coats "taller than you" and it "sure as hell beats the mosquitoes in the summertime.")
8) Being a part of a team of reporters and working together gives me a sense of accomplishment hard to find elsewhere. What makes Patch effective is that there are many of us out there now (750-plus and counting) who can dive deep into stories that need covering. One brisk November morning, my boss asked me if I had time to "take a few photos of a possible tornado" that touched down in Parkville. It was the under-sell of the year. I take no pleasure from other people's misfortunes but the team of Patch reporters, including me, did well to illustrate just what happened that morning when a tornado changed the lives of scores of families.
7) I've been dabbling in photography for a few months now and one of my favorite assignments, without question, was shooting Bret Michaels in concert at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Great music aside, the people around me are what made this story so memorable. The line of 30-somethings standing front row and the kick-ass (and surprisingly laid back) road crew were fascinating people to speak and interact with, while capturing a great musician living up to his name. I did not like, however, having to edit 600-plus photos, many of them accidental shots of Mr. Michaels tight… jeans.
6) Music was a big part of 2010 here at Lutherville-Timonium Patch. At the opposite end of rock n' roll on the musical spectrum was a group of more than 100 of Baltimore County's finest student musicians. They performed brilliantly at the county Honors Concert at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. I also have "a thing" for multimedia. I used photos from the concert in a slideshow, backed by an audio soundtrack, which was directly recorded from the show's final performance.
5) A story I wrote about discouraged mountain bikers and trail users of the Loch Raven Reservoirs that sparked more than comments conversation on my website. If what I can bring to light generates that kind of conversation, it means I have done my job and that is fulfilling in ways I cannot describe. Stay tuned to Patch in the new year for more updates from the dispute at Loch Raven.
4) I've met many, many, many people in the few months that the site has been live. But aside from the aforementioned mountain bikers, I don't think that I met a group more passionate about righting what is considered an injustice than the parents of students at Hampton Elementary School. The school is hundreds of students over capacity. The parents have taken it upon themselves to ensure their children have space to learn and grow, as they plead with county and state officials for help. Their passion is infectious. Their vigilance is admirable. On Jan. 11, decisions will be made regarding funding for construction projects in the public school system. I'm looking forward to it.
3) Coming in at No. 3 is the first story I put together for Patch. I mustered the courage and learned how to ride a horse and joust for a feature story about the state sport coming back to the Maryland State Fair. It was a fun video and story, pure and simple. If you're new to the site and haven't seen the video yet, do yourself a favor and laugh along with me as I gallop into the sunset, er, trot through a field on a cloudy day with a broomstick in my hand.
2) It should come as no surprise to most people that I dislike Justin Bieber. I don't say hate because if I were 16 and could flirt with girls like Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez, I'd wear a flat-brimmed baseball cap and super-tight jeans too. Bieber was the biggest thing to hit Timonium in years. I am ashamed to say I am a 23-year-old man and I had to sneak into his concert. (Side note: I wasn't credentialed for the concert because the site hadn't launched yet and the window to secure press passes had closed.) But I endured. I also covered, in detail, a half-mile long line that formed at 3 a.m., filled with Biebermaniacs. If you follow the link and see the video, you'll understand just how awe-inspiring Bieber's popularity really is. You'll also be treated to a rendition of one of his hit songs, performed by an adorable pre-teen. So why is Justin Bieber No. 2 on my list? Because writing "Justin Bieber" in an article is like getting James Cameron to direct your movie. The hits to my site were off the charts.
1) I'm a huge horror movie junkie. I don't think I've ever had more fun covering a story then when I brought my camera with me to the Timonium Scaregrounds—a haunted house maze developed by Lutherville residents Steve Bauer and Marianne Wittelsberger, also known as The Jokesters. The couple used their lifelong knowledge of horror cinema, makeup artistry and film production to develop a detailed, hunted thrill maze at the fairgrounds. And I was there to catch people "peeing their pants" all the way. The Jokesters have become great new friends, and I look forward to covering their many antics in the future.
SPECIAL AWARD: Covering the Dulaney High School boys soccer team deserves more than an honorable mention. Watching these kids play soccer brought me back to my youth. I'm a lifelong futbol fan, and getting to know the team, the coaches and the players was a thrill for me, to say the least. I cannot wait for next season.