More Writing

I’ve worked in print journalism for more than a decade. I’ve covered just about every community-level beat in three states.  Here are some of the stories I’ve written of which I’m most proud.

“Fauquier judge upholds dog seizure: owner to face animal cruelty charges.”

Publication date: Oct. 12, 2012, Fauquier Times.

I found this story while checking the search warrants at the Fauquier courthouse. Unless sealed by court order, search warrant affidavits are available to the public. Law officers are more candid in these documents than they are to media agencies. They have to be; the affidavits have to convince a magistrate to give permission to snoop through someone else’s stuff. After I learned about the seizure of seven dogs from a woman’s home, I sat in on the court hearing. The defense attorney tried his best, but there’s only so much you can do when your client packs emaciated dogs in crates smeared with their own waste.

“Salahi kicks off campaign for governor: White House gate-crasher aims for new reality TV show.”

Publication date: Sept. 19, 2012, Fauquier Times.

My publisher asked my boss and I to cover this campaign kickoff on a Sunday, one county over, at a house in Linden at the end of a tortuous country road. Quasi-celebrity and fameball Tareq Salahi, not content with running his family winery into the ground, crashing a White House party and making a general spectacle of himself on reality television, wanted a crack at the Virginia gubernatorial race. I tried to cover this story as I would for other candidates, but the lack of self-awareness evident at Salahi’s kickoff event and the man himself made it a challenge.

“Holding on for 60 years: Couple renew vows at hospice.”

Publication date: May 9, 2008, Daily News.

The hospice public relations lady who clued me in on this story didn’t expect what I would write. She told me Carl and Doris Bohn of West Bend, Wis. were renewing their vows in Kathy Hospice’s sitting room. Doris was dying of cancer. She advertised the story as an example of how the hospice shows a “continuum of care,” letting its clients live with the greatest possible agency. Those are banal words, so what I say instead is this: I found a story about a man and a woman cheating death with love.

“Warrenton planners open way for 207 more homes.”

Publication date: Aug. 22, 2013, Fauquier Times.

No matter what you do in journalism, meeting stories are the vegetables you have to eat to get to the glamorous stuff. But every so often, a good reporter gets to go above the level of stenographer-watchdog and observe drama, emotion, and a struggle for power. The Warrenton Planning Commission stalled a by-right development for half a year, searching in vain for some reason to stop 72 households of car traffic from clogging adjacent roads. But at last, they ran out of red tape. The officials gnashed their teeth, publicly caught between what they feel ought to happen and what municipal laws compelled them to do.

“Student drivers learn the moves for auto safety.”

Publication date: Nov. 19, 2012, Fauquier Times.

Good education reporting answers the question: what are our children being taught? Sometimes that means looking at health texts and listening in on classrooms. This time, it meant a look at a privatized driving instruction class. I got to see how children are taught to understand the braking capabilities of their vehicles… and enjoyed the reactions of a parent stuck in a car while her daughter skidded around an oil-slicked parking lot in the family car.

“Demand rises for smaller Warrenton homes.”

Publication date: July 26, 2013, Fauquier Times.

Fauquier County is one of the richest places in America, but many of the people who work there cannot live there. After interviewing town officials, real estate specialists and affordable housing workers, I illustrated the cost of owning a home in the county seat.

“Arrested development: police forces contend with fewer hires.”

Publication date: 2008, Daily News.

Right at the cusp of the recession, conventional wisdom would dictate it would be easy for companies and governments to find people willing to work. This wasn’t the case for Jackson, Wisconsin, an incorporated village that struggled to fill an open job position for a police hire. I take the readers through the environmental and economic factors that made the hire such a challenge.

“CashPoint robber gets 12 years.”

Publication date: May 3, 2013, Fauquier Times.

The man’s case pivoted on an unusual argument: he said he did not rob a title loan store to steal a check, because he stole the check the day before by sleight of hand.

“Making Marines.”

Publication date: March 8, 2013, Fauquier.com.

The U.S. Marine Corps extended to us a rare offer: join other reporters and teachers for a look at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, the proving grounds for East Coast Marines. I presented my experience in the first person: I saw civilians trying to understand the intense, hyper-physical world of basic training, handling assault rifles at a firing range just weeks after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“Left to their own devices.”

Publication date: Oct. 2, 2013, Fauquier Times.

In 2013, Fauquier County’s school division allowed students to bring mobile devices to their facilities. This article shows how students and administrators contended with the consequences of this decision. They grappled with issues of equity in access, a wireless Internet infrastructure never designed to handle hundreds of students, and attempts to effectively incorporate mobile device technology into lesson plans.

“Fauquier drug abusers risk financial ruin.”

Publication date: Aug. 24, 2012, Fauquier Times.

“Preston voters ponder levy for school repairs.”

Publication date: October 2006, The Dominion Post.

Preston County’s school maintenance workers operated under a dismal lack of funds in the 12 years after voters shot down excess levies to fund repairs. This story showed readers the cost of starving the school district of resources: students who walked through water damage and duct-taped half-measures, ashamed to be present in such conditions. One month after this story, voters approved the excess levy. I am proud to have played a small part in advocating for the Preston County Board of Education to help restore safety to its facilities and dignity to its students.

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