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The Good Life: Looking back on 2014
January 01, 2015 Lisa Betz   

Read more by Lisa Betz
Happy New Year! Itís been awhile since youíve heard from me, while Editor Kay Grote has looked after our opinion page.

As we welcome a bright shiny New Year and a range of possibilities, letís take a moment to look back on the events of 2014 and what they meant.

Every year at Christmas dinner, my family keeps a tradition of going around the table to give each person a chance to talk about events that stood out in the year. When it was my turn, I surprised myself by what came to mind.

In looking back, I realized that a lot had happened. Because of Kay and others who were part of the Citizen family, the togetherness defused stress and allowed us to have more fun producing and delivering a newspaper each week.

Though the Citizen is now into its sixth year, I am still getting my bearing as publisher, daughter, teacher and friend.

This past year, I traveled to Washington, D.C. and was reunited with old friends at The Georgetowner, where I cut my teeth as a newsy at the turn of the century. I also spent time with grad school buddies who have made a home there. The Georgetowner staff treated me like a star when I sat in on their editorial meeting. It was heartening to see how greatly things at the paper have changed, yet somehow not at all.

One of the joys of life is going home. IĎm firmly against those who say you can never really go home again. I get that we change but home doesnít. There are many places I called home in my 46 years. I discovered that I still have a home in D.C. and friends like family who each time I visit, welcome me back with open arms.

In April, I directed a play called Lying in State at WNCCĎs Little Theatre. Being back in the theatre with such a talented cast of community actors was invigorating. It was especially thrilling to stage a political farce in an election year.

In 2014, the Citizen also received statewide recognition. At the annual convention for the Nebraska Press Association, aside from seeing old friends and making new ones, Kay and I picked up 13 awards for the Citizen while finding inspiration and exchanging ideas, knowledge and wisdom with other professional journalists.

Coinciding with wider recognition was the paperís growth. Nothing was more evident than getting 11 new coin-operated racks. In May, the arrival of the shiny blue boxes emblazoned with the Gering Citizen logo was like Christmas and better than any new toy under the tree. I still get a warm fuzzy when I see them around town. The boxes helped us boost circulation and represented a big step forward. We plan to increase our presence with more boxes this year.

Over the summer, at Oregon Trail Days, we SAFE Ride OTD volunteers shared stories and laughter while accomplishing our mission of getting revelers home in one piece. The yearly summer celebration brought friends from afar and the rare sightings of familiar faces made the experience complete. Thanks to the paperís summer staffers McKenna Copsey and Kaitlyn Krzyzanowski, I was able to join some of the festivities.

Spending time with young people didnít stop there. As a WNCC instructor, I taught three classes, my favorite being Introduction to Theatre. Iím inspired and refreshed by the next generation, realizing each student is a gift. In my encounters as the Chautauqua youth coordinator, I met several bright young minds who researched area historical persons and crafted a public presentation. Their unique performances and proud smiles brought tears of pride to my eyes. It remains one of my favorite memories of the year.

Later in the year, I taught a Saturday acting workshop at Inventive Media in Mitchell, and witnessed the insight, creativity and joyfulness of even more kids.

So whatís in store for 2015? Have you already asked this question? While a crystal ball canít reveal the days ahead, I am steadfast in believing there are great things in store. Weíll add a few new faces to the staff this year, and ask you the reader to tell us more about what youíd like to see in the Citizen.

Beyond infancy, at five years, our newspaper toddles forward to take on more risk and responsibility. Like any business, weíre hopeful. As we grow and mature ó dare I say blossom ó we hope youíll join us as we remain dedicated to giving you a stronger voice in the Citizen.

As we say goodbye to 2014, take a moment to reflect on where youíve been, how far youíve come, and where youíre going.
Happy 2015!
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