Our Favorite Articles on Lowell’s First Look for 2017

Last week, we told you the most read articles on Lowell’s First Look in 2017, according to page views.

Today, we want to tell you our favorite stories. These are the ones that were fun to report, inspired us in a special way or are simply worth a second read. Without further ado, here are our favorite articles for the year.

Amanda’s Favorites

I enjoy getting out in the community and seeing what it has to offer. I like to experience the things I’m writing about, whether it be highlighting a business, sharing what programs and services an organization offers or covering current events in the community. Meeting and getting to know those who are part of the Lowell area has been a rewarding experience. I can only hope that I’m portraying those I’m writing about with the enthusiasm I see when researching an article.

It’s difficult to select just a handful of articles and photos I consider favorites from 2017. I’m looking forward to writing favorite articles and taking favorite photos in 2018.

Together at Last: Pen Pals Meet in Person for the First Time

I was happy to be invited to be a fly on the wall with a camera for this event. Having had pen pals in the past, I thought it was great for Robin and Emma to have connected and stay in touch for more than 20 years. It was fun being able to see their reaction when meeting for the first time.

A Look at the Veen Observatory

Veen Observatory during the day. Photo taken by Jeff Dickerman, GRAAA officer.

Getting to know some of the Veen family and hearing stories of their grandfather or father was a treat. It was easy to see the family members I was in contact with enjoyed allowing me to take a peek into their family. They still look to the stars and are reminded of a man whose name lives on as part of the observatory.

LowellArts Players Presents The Dixie Swim Club

I spent a few evenings with the cast and director of The Dixie Swim Club in addition to catching an evening performance. The team of women acting formed friendships, emulating the characters they portrayed, following a coach in the form of a director. I was able to watch the first rehearsal on stage as the women received constructive criticism and praise. I almost felt like a member of the club myself!

If You Weave It, They Will Come

Seeing the smiles, confidence, humor, and independence of those working at Ability Weavers was a treat. Having a business with the focus on employing individuals who otherwise may have a hard time finding a paying job is one of many positive things happening in Lowell. Quality products are made by hand and those who purchase items have the opportunity to meet the person behind the products. I’m looking forward to highlighting more about Ability Weavers in the coming year.

Grandma’s Trunk Teaches Kids About Pioneer Life

Having a first grade and preschool student in Lowell, I’ve become more aware of what is happening within Lowell Area Schools. I’ve enjoyed seeing students of various ages experiencing learning in various ways. One of my favorites was watching a second grade class learn about Grandma’s Trunk. It’s one of many grade specific programs offered in the district. Students learned about pioneer life by seeing actual items used and doing hands-on activities as pioneers would have done at the time.

Maryalene’s Favorites

My “real” job is working as a freelance contributor to sites like U.S. News & World Report. I write mainly on personal finance and while I enjoy the work, there are only so many articles you can write about retirement plans before your eyes start to glaze over.

However, writing for Lowell’s First Look is totally different. Every story is fresh and new. I love getting out to meet the people and groups that make our community special. Here are some of the 2017 stories that stick out in my mind.

Citizens Pack Lowell Twp Planning Commission Meeting

This was the first time I attended a Lowell Township meeting. After serving on the City of Lowell Planning Commission for years, I found it personally interesting to see how the township handled the hot topic of the Kissing Rock Estates development. Local residents opposing the development didn’t get their way, but everyone got to say their piece. On a related note, providing greater coverage of township news on Lowell’s First Look is one of our resolutions for 2018.

Is the Women’s Club the best kept secret in Lowell?

So many women from so many walks of life doing so many great things. I was flabbergasted when I attended a Women’s Club meeting to profile this group. I expected it to be a social club or knitting circle, but these women are getting things done in Lowell. The group impressed me so much that I am now a member myself.

Editorial: Is the City of Lowell Stagnating?

We want Lowell’s First Look to be a positive news source for the community, but we also don’t want to sugarcoat. When we started hearing grumblings that the city wasn’t being responsive to concerns and might miss out on prime opportunities for growth (looking at you Fred Meijer River Valley Rail Trail), we decided it was time to publish our first editorial.

St. Patrick School Starts Year With Near Record Enrollment

For 14 years, my family has had children enrolled at St. Patrick School. That means we’ve seen the school withstand those lean recession years when enrollment dwindled to 75, classrooms were combined and many thought the historic institution was destined for closure. Knowing that, I loved being able to write this article about how the school has turned the corner and become a success story.

17-Year Old Woodworker Blends Old-World Skills with Modern Technology

So many things impressed me about Jake Hanson. I was impressed by his eye for design. I was impressed by his skills. I was impressed he used hand tools instead of using machinery for everything. Most of all, I was impressed that he is largely self-taught. Jake’s story is like so many we’ve covered this year: people quietly doing amazing things. We’d love to share more of these stories in 2018 so let us know if you think someone out in the Lowell community deserves a profile!

Tina’s Favorites

Police Beat


My first favorite isn’t just an article but a whole series of articles. Police Beat! Our Lowell officers are on the job, even when we don’t see them. It’s comforting to know that they handle difficult situations in such a way that if we didn’t read about it, we wouldn’t know it happened. The series keeps us informed of the real work they are doing on the behalf of our community and visitors alike. Thank you to the Lowell police officers for all they do.

Happy Thanksgiving: First Grade Class Shares What They are Thankful For

Teaching our young children to be thankful is so important, and it was great to read about students at Bushnell recognizing why we should be grateful.

New Biodigester Owner: This Time Will Be Different


Crews work to shut down the Lowell biodigester in this photo taken on November 28.

I loved it. We thought folks would see right through our April Fools’ Day joke, but some people thought it was serious. (That’s why it’s important to read the article and not just the headline!) We need to shake up our days now and then, and this seemed to do exactly that.

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