Morristown Editor’s Choice 2013

Morristown Patch editor Russ Crespolini looks back on the stories he found memorable.

This week we have reflected back on a lot of what grabbed the attention of the Morristown community and what kept you talking long after the post was published. Now I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of stories that impacted me in my time here in Morristown.

The first was my welcome letter. I know how that sounds, but really it isn’t just because I like myself. Transferring to Morristown was exciting and scary at the same time. I wrote that initial post with a lot of certainty and fear in my heart. I hadn’t seriously spent anytime in Morristown since my grandmother (a lifelong resident) had passed in 2010. Simply because it was too painful. I was concerned how I was going to be able to handle being in a town that was so linked to her and my memories of her. This letter was the first step I took forward. And I have you all to thank for that.

The next story that leaps out to me was the return Headquarters Plaza movie theater to Morristown. A few months after Clearview Cinemas closed down there was this momentous announcement that AMC had stepped in to pick up the slack. The story did very well, but the reason it is so memorable to me is that I broke the story first at the side of the road using the Patch app on the iPhone. It was a fun confluence of new media journalism and old school scoop fever.

The Greystone saga (which continues to develop) was fascinating to me because it is so inexorably linked to Morristown and everyone has an opinion on it. I also scared the crap out of myself taking photos of the Kirkbride building and surrounding grounds. I was also delighted to learn so much about the history of the building from the historians trying to save it, and from my own mother who did her psychiatric training for nursing school there.

This story was interesting to me because the timing worked out that I was finishing up the preview on the new ShopRite when the news of the final closing date for the A&P arrived. The juxtaposition of the two just worked for me. I think one without the other would have been flat.

Not one week after having a giant Patch team meeting there, the Café on the Green announced on Facebook that they were closing their doors forever. Why this story is memorable for me was that I couldn’t get in contact with the owner immediately and ended up having to source social media. While I am not always comfortable with that practice, I think it was effective in this case and sort of helped convert me to alternate story forms.

I took a ton of flack for this story, but honestly if as I am walking around the green I come in contact with a guy likening a sitting president to Adolf Hitler and handing out literature to residents, then it is a thing. And a thing needs to be reported. I was asked by one public official if I would “glorify” a supremacist group if they were present and doing the same thing on the green. Reporting is not glorifying, and the answer is yes. I would. But I love having to think about these things.

A bunch of Frelinghuysen Middle School kids dropped eggs from the top of fire ladder in the name of science. Come on! Who has a better job than I do? I got to watch these little eggs in various parachutes plummet to their doom on a beautiful fall morning much to the delight (or chagrin depending on how the eggs landed) of the students and faculty. Check out the video, it’s a fun way to waste a minute.

I met this wonderful family who has owned a variety of different shops in Morristown for years and I had the distinct pleasure of reporting on their latest iteration. Really a great little business story about the local shop owner staying local to their community.

This is run of the mill police story in many ways. However, I am particularly happy with the headline on it and I owe most of the credit to my colleague Jason Koestenblatt. Jason is the editor of Long Valley Patch and inherited Mendham-Chester Patch when I transferred to Morristown. We bounced ideas back and forth until this one came out and I think it was effective.

A lot of what comprises my day is grinding out trying to find the stories that will impact my communities. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. A lot of it is, to wax poetically, a lot like the old gumshoe detective pounding the pavement looking for a lead. It means I sit through a lot of meetings with no guarantee that I made the right choice of what to cover until the meeting is over. Being the only member of the media to nab this nifty story on excellent AP scores for Morristown High School is an example of a night well spent.

Santa arriving on the Morristown Green is an event not to be missed. As a child I remember many times exploring the downtown with my family. This year, I was able to share this experience with my two-year-old daughter. Being able to share that moment with this community and my family is why this rounds out my list for the year.

So as we wind down 2013 and look forward to 2014 I wanted to thank you all for being so welcoming and patient with me. You have made my transition here easier and allowed me to build new memories without discarding the old ones. I look forward to partnering with you to make this site a true reflection of this community. And as always, drop me a line at russ.crespolini@patch.com for any reason. 


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