When I started working as the editor of Waukee Patch in July 2011, I had no idea how much I would grow to love this job.
I can liken it to the way I felt when I first became a parent. I knew that it would be a lot of work, would come with a huge learning curve and that some days I would question why I did it, but I would also discover how incredibly rewarding it could be. That's how I feel about working for Waukee Patch.
Part of what I love about my job is the community I write about. In the interest of full disclosure, I live in West Des Moines — have for nearly 10 years — and always considered Waukee to be that "cute little place west of town." I knew very little about it other than it had a great school system (my daughter goes to school there.)
I'll admit it, I'm in love with the city of Waukee. Our relationship has really blossomed since our first introduction eight months ago. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, let me tell you why:
1. Centennial Park - Not only do I love the fact that there are several great playground for the kids but I also really dig the covered bridge. It gives the park a certain kind of charm and sets it apart from the rest.
2. The Downtown Triangle - If you're new to town, it might take you a while to learn about the Triangle but once you do, you'll keep coming back. It's the center of several city celebrations, home to a barber, flower shop, hardware store and even an ice cream place. When in doubt, hit up the Triangle.
3. Pin Oak Gallery - Speaking of the Triangle, one of my new favorite stores is the . I do a lot of shopping (don't judge) and at Pin Oak, I can pop right in, pick out a gift, have it wrapped and be out of there in just a few minutes. They also give me coffee the minute I walk in. Who wouldn't fall in love with free coffee?
4. The Garlic Cheese Pizza at Pizza Ranch - I covered many a political event in the last eight months and was at the center of several of those events but that isn't why I love it. It's the garlic cheese pizza. Seriously. I could eat it three times a day. Once again, don't judge. It's that good.
5. The Waukee Schools - People don't believe me when I tell them about . For someone who isn't familiar with Waukee, it's hard to grasp the rate at which the district is growing. Moreover, I think it's hard for people to understand the level at which our children are learning. It surpasses many other public school systems in Iowa and the United States. In short, our kids have it better than most. They're getting a top notch education in a public school system.
6. Accessible City Government - When a city grows at the rate Waukee is, sometimes it can be hard to gain access to city officials. There's often red tape and hassles. Not in Waukee. Even the mayor has an open door policy.
7. The Cemetery - There's no better place to get a sense of a city's history than its cemetery. Sometime, take a walk through the cemetery just down the street from Waukee Elementary and get to know the residents there. They will tell you everything you need to know about Waukee's roots.
8. Wesley the Cat at Waukee Hardware - If you've ever been into , then you've probably met Wesley. Their resident feline has made his home there for as long as Geoff and Anne Warmouth have owned the place. That orange tabby gives the place a character like no other.
9. The History of Waukee - Did you know that the city of Waukee was incorporated in 1878? Neither do most people. In fact, many folks probably don't even know that there was a coal mine operating there for years. If you get the chance, check out Waukee's history. It's rich.
10. Alice Nizzi, Alice's Spaghettiland and Alice's Road - Most Waukee natives remember . If they don't, then they absolutely know where Alice's Road is. It was named after Nizzi and holds the key to Waukee's future success. While Nizzi is no longer around, her legacy is far reaching.
11. Bike Trails - The Heart of the Warrior trail and the Raccoon River Valley trail both offer a peaceful, relaxing way to wind down and they're both right in Waukee. You can't beat 'em.
12. The Waukee Chamber of Commerce - Ably headed by executive director Melinda Behn, the is a great resource for all things business in Waukee. It's a small but strong orginization of business owners who want the best for the city and it absolutely shows.
13. The People - I have had the pleasure of telling some amazing stories about the people in Waukee. , , - they all have such wonderful stories of their own and are such an integral part of the fabric of the Waukee community but it's not just the notable folks who give this city panache. It's the everyday folks - the ones who say hello on the street and offer to help me find a business or a source, the ones who strike up a conversation on the fly - it's those people, the people of Waukee, who make the city special.
14. Waukee Patch - I might sound biased, but I have always felt like the city of Waukee needed a community sounding board. I believe Waukee Patch is it. I hope that everyone knows and understands that Waukee Patch is their online source of information and it's all about them.