Writer’s Block:Reflecting on five years

Last week, Mandy Moran Froemming wrote about the changes happening at ABC Newspapers.

Eric Hagen
Eric Hagen

I am directly impacted by this change and am excited about what is to come, but sad to leave the cities I have covered for five years.

I will continue to cover what happens at city hall, the schools, neighborhoods and business districts of the city of Andover as I have for the past five years.

I will no longer be covering the cities of East Bethel and Ham Lake so I can focus my efforts on the city of Blaine, which Tim Hennagir has done a marvelous job of covering for the past six years.

Kelly Johnson will now cover Ham Lake while Karin Craig will write about East Bethel.

Any time I go through change, I have mixed emotions.

There have been many interesting topics to cover in East Bethel and Ham Lake.

Whether the sewer and water system in East Bethel is successful in attracting new developers will be the biggest story to follow in northern Anoka County in upcoming years I believe.

Besides sewer and water, debates on police coverage in both cities, the transmission line in East Bethel and the senior center staffing and use in Ham Lake are just a few of the stories that stick out to me because they brought large crowds to city hall.

I am sometimes the only one sitting in the audience of a city council meeting, so seeing people filling up the rows of usually empty chairs is a cool thing to see.

It was rewarding for me to write these stories because I love trying to make complex topics understandable and interesting to people. Hopefully I was able to do this.

The community event feature stories were always fun to write because there was a positive vibe.

Fat Boys Bar and Grill and now Ham Lake Lions Park have hosted the Patriot Ride in which thousands of motorcyclists ride to thank current and former military service members.

What I have appreciated the most about this event is the organizers focus on the men and women who serve and not the politicians who made the decisions.

We may not always agree on whether the country should go to war, but the people who have served should be thanked for their sacrifices.

I’m no fan of winter, but even I started looking forward to covering the Ham Lake Snowbowl each year.

You get to see dog sled races, skijoring, helicopters take off and land, ice fishing and much more.

The Snowbowl committee has done a tremendous job in growing this event.

Most cities have their big community celebration in the summer. Ham Lake does have some summer community events, but having a big civic festival in the winter distinguishes Ham Lake.

Booster Day in East Bethel was always a joy to cover because there was such a variety of events.

There were so many that I could never cover them all.

My favorite sight was seeing the parade progress south on Palisade Street with hordes of people lining the street.

This parade had the most royalty than any other parade I have ever covered. Two years ago, royalty came from as far away as Albertville and Inver Grove Heights.

The first interview I had on my first day with ABC Newspapers on Aug. 29, 2007 was with Ham Lake resident Tom Hughes, who had survived the 35W bridge collapse on Aug. 1, 2007.

Many people in the community stepped up to help him and his family, so a major portion of my story focused on that once he told me what he saw that day.

Tom was kind enough to give me a photo of his truck amidst other vehicles on the collapsed bridge.

The picture was taken later from a more overhead angle, not from the bridge. I still have this photo.