2013 seemed like a whirlwind year for me and my family. It was also a year of change at the Muscatine Journal. We had a lot of old friends leave us last year. Mike Ferguson, a great reporter, followed his wife to Billings, Mont.. Reporter Joe Jarosz did the same and followed his wife to Kansas City. Then came the loss of our dear friend and reporter, Cynthia Beaudette, who passed away in December.
Change is inevitable, I know, but it is still hard. But we are kicking off 2014 with some great young reporters and new energy in the building, so despite these changes, and saying goodbye to some good friends, I’m expecting good things for 2014.
The events that stand out for me in 2013 are probably the events that stand out for a lot of people. Personally, the Jameson family had a pretty busy year. We spent much of the first half of the year hosting Rafaella Orsini, a Brazilian foreign exchange student through Rotary who spent the school year at Muscatine High School. She also played basketball on the varsity team that ended up going to state. Between my daughter practicing and traveling with show choir and jazz choir, and Rafaella practicing and playing basketball, we were always on the run. Plus, somehow, both my wife and I continued our studies toward our master's degrees. We both graduated in December from St. Ambrose University, which was the biggest thing to happen in the Jameson household in 2013.
Some news events that I remember vividly include:
Muscatine being named a Blue Zones community. A lot of community leaders worked very hard to make that a reality. And now that we are a Blue Zones community they continue to work hard to provide opportunities in the community to make us happier and healthier.
The 3-peat by the boys swim team. That third state championship in a row was fun for the community and something that will be talked about for a long time.
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The great run to state by the girls basketball team. I’m sure that opening-game loss was a disappointment to the girls on the team, but they had a great season and they should be proud of their accomplishments.
All of the China activity in 2013. Building on the visit by then-Vice Preside, now President, Xi Jinping in 2012, the community, in part through the Mayor’s Muscatine-China initiative, worked to build an even closer relationship with China and a cultural exchange between Muscatine and Zhengding. It resulted in a number of events, including the opportunity for nearly 20 Muscatine college and high school students to go to China on a cultural and educational exchange. 2013 was an important year for Muscatine-China relations and something that we’ll hopefully build on in 2014. China and the U.S. may not agree on a lot of things, but the best way to influence and understand cultures is through friendship and exchange.
The sudden, destructive and deadly tornado that ripped through town in late June is also a big memory for me and the rest of us at the Journal. It was a story of sadness, which included the destruction of Cavalry Church and the loss of life for Muscatine resident Wayne Haury. But it was also a story of resilience and the community coming together. The church put up a big tent in their parking lot and went on with outside services. People worked together to clean up and move on with life. That’s what community is about.
I could go on and on with my recollections about 2013, but there are just too many things to mention. In the end, 2013 was like any other year – a mix of good and bad, happiness and sadness, love and loss. And like most years now that I am getting older, it went by way too fast.
I hope you and your loved ones have a safe, productive and happy 2014.