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  • Stephen D'Agostino

A Few of My Favorite Columns for 2017

By now, you’ve probably seen dozens of Top 10 of 2017 lists. Top 10 movies, Top 10 books, Top 10 this, Top 10 that, Top 10 the other thing.

I’m happy to report to you that I will not be bringing you my Top 10 Favorite Reading Review stories of 2017. Just eight.

There’s a reason I’m doing a recap article. Hot off of writing last week’s column regarding the Reading-West Windsor Food Shelf, I had to write this one in three days to beat the early submission deadline (thanks, Christmas!). So, with a shortened timeline, I decided to dig into my own archives.

Fresh in my mind, the column on the Woodstock Farmers’ Market’s commitment to our food shelf (December 21) is on my list of favorites. I was happy to share the sense of community that makes this a great place to live.

Columns about weddings are favorites, too. I wrote about two nuptials this year: the marriage of Donna Martin and Rick Stahl at the Old Stone Church (February 22), and the marriage of Matt von Unwerth and Jackie LaDonne at the Universalist Church in Felchville (August 31). One of the things I loved about the latter column is I received comments from town folk who helped solve the mystery of when the last wedding in that church was prior to Matt’s and Jackie’s. (In case you’re wondering it was Jess Seman’s parents in 1978).

Of course, as I’m sure you know, the kids in the elementary school are favorite subjects for my articles. This year, they helped me out three times. The first two were in January (the 19th and 26th to be specific) as I was recovering from my hip surgery. The kids answered questions about their wishes for themselves, their school, and their town for the year 2017. They were a hoot to read! I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

The third time the kids helped out was for the column published on November 22. It featured the students’ answers to the question “what are you thankful for?” For all three columns for which the kids contributed, it was refreshing to read their hopes and thoughts of gratitude, expressions untainted by the concerns adults have to deal with.

That leaves just two more on the Top 8 list. Both columns dealt with individuals who have a connection to Reading. The first is about Rob Macri and the great work he does as Education Coordinator of Farms for City Kids (July 27). Not only did it give me an opportunity to learn more about Spring Brook Farm and the program, but it also gave me the chance to get to know Rob. Now, we don't just wave to each other when we pass. We stop and talk.

If you noticed above, I said “individuals who have a connection to Reading” not “residents of Reading.” My #1 on my Top 8 of 2017, is the article I wrote about Susan Hanson, the persistent pedaler of Route 106, as I named her in my column of September 28. Susan was a mystery to me, and I imagine many people who’ve past her as she biked back and forth on the state road. Learning more about her, her commitment, and her gratitude to the people of Reading was one of my favorite interviewing and writing experiences of the year—not only for the column but for my job, which is all writing all the time. Susan said she is grateful for the waves she gets from drivers as she bikes. I waved to her before I met her. I wave to her since then. I am brightened every time she gives her energetic wave to me as we pass. As simple a gesture as that is, it always makes me happy.

Something else that makes me happy is when people take the time to stop me and tell me they enjoy reading my column. I may not be pushing the pedals every day, but I am tapping the keys every week. It’s a labor of love, and the payment has been to uncover and to some extent be part of our great little community that has welcomed Bill and me. It is home, and though I didn’t write one article specifically about that this year, I hope it permeated everything I have written.

You can find all of these columns on my site

Before I sign off, I would be remiss to not mention the New Year’s Eve Dance. You know the day it’s happening. The time is 8:30pm to 12:30am. The venue is Robinson Hall.

Go for the fun, go for the dessert bar, go for the simplicity (as in not having to travel far to celebrate), and be sure to thank Joe Braun of the Recreation Commission. Joe has poured a lot of effort into making this an event to remember. Joe has also been involved in everything the Recreation Commission has done, and he has a lot to be proud of. I am sure that on January 1, 2018, he’ll look back in say the New Year’s Eve Dance was #1 on his Top 10 Recreation Commission moments.

If you want more information about the New Year’s Eve Dance or want to purchase tickets, contact a member of the Recreation Commission. They are Joe Braun (, Stephen D’Agostino (, Lisa Kaija (, and Lisa Morrison (

Happy New Year, Reading!

That’s the news from Reading! See you next week!

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