Wow, I still can’t believe we are nearing the end of the year. It’s literally been a whirlwind.
On a personal note, 2016 was a great year. I worked my first full calendar year in local television and I can say it’s been an experience unlike any other.
I have met some great people these past 12 months and I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to tell their stories. In doing this I’ve seen myself grow as a reporter, but also as a person. Crossing paths with so many different people has brought unique perspective to my life. I’ve been inspired by others. Now, this job isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. There have been tough moments- dark times in people’s lives that I have to document with a camera and a microphone. You get emotional. It’s not easy, but I have the opportunity to look for the good in all the bad.
Throughout the year I’ve covered all kinds of stories, sports, breaking news, crime, health, arts, education, politics and just about everything in between (including hurricanes and Zika). Below I have a list of my the most memorable stories throughout the year. It’s been tough to narrow it down.
January: We got a Facebook message from a lifeguard on Siesta Key who was looking for the owner of an old graduation photo found on the beach. The very next day a tornado touches down on Siesta Key. Luckily no one was hurt in this event. I ended up working a 15 hour day. (The first of many long days). One of our other reporters, Lynden Blake had a heartbreaking story of a Manatee County couple killed in another tornado that same day. She did a great job and her storytelling still brings tears to my eyes. Our whole entire staff came in that day and it made me really proud to be a part of such a hardworking group.
February: Along with Lynden, I was able to head to Lakeland for the FHSAA Basketball Championships. We had two local teams there competing for the championship. The Riverview Rams fell just short of winning a state championship, but it was an incredible opportunity to cover them.
March: Primary Season. We were visited by every politician you can imagine. I was able to cover Marco Rubio’s March 8th visit. His campaign was gearing up for one final push- one week before the primary. Later on that month, a deadly tanker fire shut downs I-75 and adjacent roads.
May: Flooding leads to roads closing all across the Suncoast, especially in the city of Sarasota. The flooding was pretty intense.Myself and Carlos Munoz with the Herald-Tribune spent the day going to different spots in Sarasota. Many drivers were stranded, but we did catch a good Samaritan helping out. Later on that month, Planned Parenthood was evacuated due to a hazmat situation and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office begins the Text to 911 Program.
June: My first Tropical Storm. Tropical Storm Colin had its sights set on the Suncoast. This was also Ben Bobick’s first day. A few weeks later, Ben went on to do one of my favorite stories of the year. #FindGrumbles
July: My Spanish comes in handy. The Cuban National Rowing Team trains at Nathan Benderson Park. My news director asked I do the story en espanol as well. I hope I’ll continue to have opportunities to use my spanish throughout my career.
August: This summer there was a lot of negative things going on across the country. In between all of this – I met Amazing Grace a few days after her birthday. I can say that she has inspired me and others. A week later one of the biggest stories of my young career. A Punta Gorda Police Officer accidentally shoots a woman during a civilian training drill. A week later a teen vacationing from the Northeast stabs his mom and younger brother.
September: Hurricane Hermine brings some historic flooding to Anna Maria Island. I spent a few hours on the island walking around and saw some of the craziest flooding I had seen in person. As a reporter in Florida I did a lot of stories on Zika, unfortunately trying to get information on a local level was pretty difficult.
October: My last story at SNN. A really inspiring piece about going out and trying to accomplish your dreams. I also began a new job at WRDW/WAGT in Augusta, Georgia.
November: One of my first stories was at the groundbreaking of a new development on the grounds where the Cherry Tree Crossing used to be. I was able to meet Donald Hill- who used to live there many, many years ago. Hill hopes to maybe move back to his “home”, but he’s glad that a new neighborhood will be there.
There are so many stories I left out. I hope that next year I get to continue to tell these stories and meet people who make this job 100% worth it.
So 2017 bring it on.