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On scene at March fire in Whitehall

In March, a food truck caught on fire at the Stewart's on Route 4 in Whitehall. 

So, the other day, someone asked me, "Why are you a reporter?"

Without hesitation, I responded.

"It's the people, all the people I meet," I said. "It's all the people who take the time to teach me things or momentarily invite me into their world."

Yes, I continued.

"It's a cycle, people tell me their story and then I share that story with readers."

And that part will always the best part of my job.

But after thinking about it for a few days, its the never knowing what comes next that keeps me doing this job.

It's all the offbeat and crazy things that happen when reporting a story. Like the time this year that I rode in a pick-up truck with the Granville Mayor, traveling deep inside a slate quarry. In that same week, I had to ride on the back of a farmer's ATV for several miles along a bumpy and muddy path to witness hundreds of dead farm animals. 

By the time I got back to the newsroom there was mud all over my shoes and splattered up my leg. A story we still laugh about. 

Just a couple weeks ago, I had to ride to the top of the big ferris wheel at the Washington County Fair to take pictures and I don't really like going up in the air in anything.

This past winter I wrote about a crazy harrowing drive home on an icy hill in Hebron or while at another paper riding with the Vermont State Police while she was searching camps for the Dannemora escapees a few years back. Or covering the film crew shooting the film about their escape in Chestertown?

I've been on some tragic scenes, like when searchers found a woman who had been murdered and dumped in the George Washington National Forest. 

In March, I was late leaving for work and while getting into my car, my husband and I saw a large black cloud rising to the right of our house. At first I thought the house across the street, Joe's house, was on fire.

I yelled to my husband to take my camera out of my bag, while I rooted through my purse for a notebook, pen and I was off. 

It was just before 10:30 a.m. on a Friday, and within seconds, billowing black clouds curled up and over Route 4 at the intersection of Williams Street in the village of Whitehall.

Besides the ominous plumes, there was the bitter smell of burning plastic and several small explosions drew neighbors from their mid-morning coffee, many outside before firefighters arrived on scene.

I was just seconds ahead of the Whitehall Fire Department, giving me time to snap a shot of the chief pulling the hose over to the burgeoning blaze.

That's the thing about reporting, we never know, from one minute to the next, what might happen. There are plenty of times that I'm packing up my things to go home and something breaks, meaning my family has to be understanding too, because I am always late getting home.

I would never even consider not staying to get the story, because our readers need the information, sometimes right away, like during fires, floods, road closures, crimes and storms.

Without a community newspaper, that information might not reach large numbers of people at one time, meaning important warnings might be missed.

I guess its the blend of breaking news, government stories about budgets and county challenges and the good news stories about the people living in the area, that make reporting important to me.

And I think for those same reasons, a local newspaper is important to the community.

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