It’s become a tradition to take a look back at the previous year before we jump ahead with our coverage for the new year. Here is our list of the Southwest Michigan Second Wave stories that were the best read in 2018 with comments from the correspondents who wrote them. Maybe you will find one you missed that you will want to check out.
10. Turtle dogs: How South Carolina bird dogs help count Michigan turtles
Rosemary Parkers says: What’s not to love about the story of a retired English teacher and his turtle-fetching spaniels bringing low-tech help a team of research scientists?
9. Born and raised in Battle Creek and back to brew coffee and create a gathering place
Jane Simons says: What really stays with me about this story is that it bucks the notion that young people who were born and raised in Battle creek aren't coming back. Jake Minear is an example of Battle Creek natives who left, thinking they'd never come back, and made the decision to come home to make a positive impact in their community.
8. Shwe Mandalay: Battle Creek’s Burmese restaurant seen as catalyst for growth of neighborhood
Jane Simons says: Jennifer Cole's decision to open a Burmese restaurant in one of the city's lowest-income neighborhoods speaks to the potential in Battle Creek for growth and an embracing of diverse culture. Jennifer could have opened this restaurant anywhere and her decision to locate in Washington Heights signals a change in the mindset of business owners who now see opportunities to be a part of a resurgence.
7. Multiple mixed-use developments on the horizon in downtown Kalamazoo
Ryan Boldrey says: But a snapshot of what is happening around Kalamazoo, this story honed in on numerous projects that are bringing jobs, growth and opportunities at higher education to the residents of Kalamazoo. Everywhere one looks more buildings appear to be on the rise as the economy improves and home values rise in the area. Of note, since this story was written, there are no longer plans for a Drake Taphouse at the Corner@Drake Development, however a Mod Pizza has recently opened there and an Olga's will soon fling open its doors as well.
6. An alternative internet service provider can be seen on the rooftops of the Douglas neighborhood
Kathy Jennings says: I enjoyed the walk through the Douglas neighborhood in search of Wireless Internet Service Provider transmission towers with Aeron Wireless business owner Brad Loomis. Who knew that in one tiny part of Kalamazoo some of the latest in cordless internet is being installed?
5. Edison: Where helping your neighbor is what people do and diversity is a matter of pride
Theresa Coty O’Neil says: While working on the first article of our On the Ground coverage, I loved learning about the people, history and dreams of Edison, a neighborhood that is one of Kalamazoo's true melting pots.
4. From boom to bust to boom: Washington Square makes an upturn
Theresa Coty O’Neil says: While writing this story, I learned how a focused group of motivated residents, neighborhood leaders, and supportive organizations, can have a tremendous impact on the morale of a neighborhood, even if it takes decades.
3. From a single scooter company to three buildings, Jericho Town grows in Edison
Theresa Coty O’Neil says: Sitting down with Krystal and Jed Gast to discuss the evolution of Jericho Town demonstrated to me the tremendous potential of ingenuity, hard work and faith: if you renovate it, they really will come.
2. Concentration camp survivor tells of 'signposts' on the road to holocaust
Mark Wedel says: This is the second time I’ve interviewed Irving Roth. He’s open, friendly, humorous, and will tell you exactly what it was like to see one’s people methodically turned to ashes. I think his most-important message is that these were
ordinary people, following a once-fringe political philosophy, participating in brutality.
1. A Northside Icon: They call him Mr. Everything
Theresa Coty O’Neil says: As our first in-depth Northside feature, Charlie Parker was an inspiration, not only for all he has done for the Northside, but for how his spirit of giving back to the community has been passed down to his six children and a niece who serve the neighborhood and the city in so many ways.
These are among the top read stories of the year, but not written in 2018.
The Japanese Knotweed: Don't try to kill this invader on your own
This story published in February 2016 has been the best read story of the year for three years in a row. Mark Wedel’s report on what it takes to fight the Japanese Knotweed continues to draw readers eager to find out how to treat the invasive plant that evolved to thrive on the volcanoes of Japan.
The top 10 rides on southwest Michigan trails
The No. 3 best read story of the year was an even older story and also written by Mark Wedel. The avid biker — he’s even written a book on his travels by bike — offered his list of the top 10 rides on Southwest Michigan trails in July 2015. People have been reading and riding ever since.