When I started writing this column more than three years ago, I wondered how long it would last. Would readers continue to submit questions, week after week? Would they care about a hyper-local column, often centered on the more mundane aspects of a community? Would they keep reading?
The answer was yes. And yes. And yes.
Readers, you’re a special group. I realized this column would be just fine almost three years ago to the day when I was pleasantly inundated with phone calls and personal visits from people in response to a question about Ottawa’s old race track. People eagerly shared their stories, information and memories. I wrote about it, and voilà! A partnership was born.
You never ceased to amaze me with your questions. Sometimes the questions were large enough to be turned into news stories by Ottawa Herald reporters. Other times, they became short and sweet column blurbs. Occasionally, they led to photos. Or video. Or a second column the following week.
As for column topics, it would be easier to list what I didn’t write about. You asked about streets and signs and businesses…about animal and celebrity sightings…about events from 25, 50 and 100 years ago.
To those who submitted questions: Thank you. This column literally couldn’t have existed without you.
I’ve also had an enormous amount of assistance from community resources and sources who patiently answered and fielded these inquiries. A special thank you to Deborah Barker and Susan Geiss with the Franklin County Historical Society; Richard Nienstedt, Ottawa city manager; and Ottawa Police Assistant Chief Adam Weingartner. Their willingness to share information with me — and, therefore, you — was invaluable to this column.
As you may have guessed by now, today’s column will be my last. But don’t worry. The Herald’s award-winning reporting team, led by managing editor Doug Carder, will continue to field your inquiries, questions and concerns about Ottawa and Franklin County.
So continue to ask questions. Stay engaged. Keep reading.