Editor’s Notebook: Goodbye, Sussex
This is my first editorial on Sussex Patch, and sadly, it will also be my last. I’m sharing my opinions on Sussex’s biggest topics once and for all.
Sussex, you’ve been a real treat.
It’s impossible not to sound cliché while writing this, but this moment is bittersweet. I’m both ecstatic and disheartened to announce that Wednesday will be my last day in Sussex, and consequently, my last day as editor of Sussex Patch.
I know, I know. Fight back your tears.
I’m obviously sad because Sussex has been an absolute delight. This small community has welcomed me with open arms. I’ve been invited into your homes, laughed with you at community events and tried my best to deliver some pretty stellar news articles.
However, I’m happy to start this new chapter of my life while staying loyal to a company that blows me away by how amazing it is. I’m now the new editor of Patch in Winnetka and Glencoe, two small communities in Chicago’s north shore.
After being in a long distance relationship for more than two years between Chicago and Milwaukee, my 2007 Nissan Murano with 104,000 miles on it is crying tears of joy, knowing the endless weekend road trips are finally over. Yes, this is the reason you rarely see me taking pictures at weekend events. I’m in another state 50 percent of the time.
I fully plan to read a handful of comments like “Andy, you’re an idiot” below, but whatever.
Exactly one year ago Patch took a real risk on me, in my opinion. Fresh out of college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I’ve had plenty of internships, but never a full-time job in the media. Managing a news website as my first gig isn’t something I even considered as a possibility. Who would?
But thankfully it paid off. I somehow understood Sussex, a community I never visited before my first day on the job, and Sussex understood me. Because readers like you took a chance on something new, Patch’s readership numbers in Sussex are higher than the actual population. Don’t ask me how that happened, but I’m hoping my new readers in Chicago are even remotely as amazing as you.
And don’t fret. Sussex Patch isn’t shutting down. You’re getting an absolutely outstanding fill-in editor — veteran journalist Brendan O'Briens — who has been fully briefed on all the village’s hot topics. He already covered a story for me on the Sussex-Lisbon merger and blew it out of the park. He’ll make sure the site is just as interesting until they find another full-time editor to take my place.
However, now that my time in Sussex is over, I’d like to share my opinion on a few topics. I’ve held back on my personal opinions in the past, so my articles were as unbiased as possible, but considering that I’m leaving, I’m tossing that mentality in the trash.
I’ve been to nearly every village meeting in the last year, talked with the right people on and off the record and really thought this all through. I fully plan to read a handful of comments like “Andy, you’re an idiot” below, but whatever. As one of the most immersed individuals in the Sussex community, these are my opinions:
Bugline Paving Project
While this is happening regardless of how loud people whine, I’m completely in favor of paving the Bugline trail. None of the trees outside of ash and sick elm trees will be removed, so the trail will remain extremely secluded and rustic. Also, as someone who runs roughly 20 miles a week, I understand the “It’s hard on my joints” argument, but why can’t you just run on the gravel/dirt edge on the side of the pavement? I do on other paved trails and roads.
And, yes, it’s a lot of taxpayer money. However, if Waukesha County doesn’t take the funding, it’s going to be used for the same project in another state, so we might as well use our own money in our own backyard. Paving the trail will also make it more accessible to rollerbladers and bikers. And if your main argument is regarding the speed of street bikes, you seriously need a new argument.
Is the Village Board Evil?
I can’t count the number of comments I've read about voting out the members on the Village Board because they have some sort of twisted agenda. This is absolutely not true. The people on the board are 100 percent nonpartisan, extremely smart, incredibly nice and truly have Sussex’s best interest in mind.
If you’re unconvinced, please attend just one Village Board meeting. I’ve attended enough for everyone to say the amount of detail they go into for a project like the failed corporate park is amazing. These people are doing their homework, listening to the residents and are still extremely conservative and careful when it comes to spending money.
Please don’t spit out angry comments about things like the board wanting to replace the dirty, deteriorating Sussex “Welcome” signs with donated money from Quad/Graphics because you think subsidizing the small remaining costs is unnecessary. Making a community beautiful ties into attracting new businesses and supporting the local economy.
I could talk about this forever, but apparently I don’t need to as the merger was just voted down. That was incredibly sad. Residents were voting to simply learn more about the complicated issues with the merger, like the disproportion of debt between the communities, but they wouldn’t even do that.
The Lisbon Town Board was ready and willing to firmly negotiate deals surrounding important issues like taxes, debt and maintaining the same style of life, but Lisbon voted against even considering it. In my opinion, that was very foolish — considering that taxes would rise very minimally for residents and Lisbon is currently worried about a shrinking tax base.
It could have been vetoed in a few months when officials learned some details wouldn’t work out, but a vast majority of Lisbon residents voted against educating themselves.
Cannery Corner/Mammoth Springs/Quarry
This was by far my favorite topic to report on. That development is going to be amazing when it’s finally approved. Also, I wish the village and developer would somehow find a way to open the quarry to swimmers again. When walking through the thick woods to get these photos, I was blown away.
Village Park Redesign
Yes, I understand, this project is a lot of money. It’s a lot of your taxpayer money for things you most likely won’t use very often. I personally don’t play baseball, I don’t have children to play in a splash pad, I don’t play disc golf and I might get a game of tennis in once a year.
However, I have to admit, those photos of the completed park look pretty awesome. I also have to admit that those updates will most likely attract more residents to Sussex, keep current residents living in Sussex, thus attracting more business to Sussex. All of those benefits sound pretty attractive from a taxpayer’s perspective. So sure, update the park, but maybe keep a lid on the costs as much as possible.
The Hamilton School District
There is no argument here, just uninformed residents. Yes, Hamilton had to raise taxes this school year. However, it’s still one of the lowest-spending districts in the area, as well as one of the top performing districts. When people make comments about Hamilton raising taxes and how they’re wasting taxpayer money, they look very foolish.
I know those are some very strong opinions on some big topics, but I hope my informed opinion has also informed you! I’ll miss the people in Sussex, as well as all these interesting topics that made writing articles so much fun.
Stay awesome, Sussex!