Does the end of the year surprise you the same as it does me? I find it hard to believe we’re already closing the book on 2017.
At this time last year, for example, we were having a public discussion about how Jacqueline Craig and her children were treated by Fort Worth police after Craig called for help resolving a dispute with a neighbor.
The officer involved, William Martin, was suspended for 10 days. This month, Craig and her family filed a federal lawsuit alleging that their constitutional rights were violated during the arrest.
We continue to cover progress of the task force established following the arrest.
How people are treated by those in positions of power is a bedrock for any local news organization. At the Star-Telegram, we know we’ve got to cover the stories that are significant to you and to our community. And we’ve got to stay with them.
Early in 2017 a team began to take a look at child abuse in Tarrant County, which led us to the Las Vegas Trail neighborhood. Deanna Boyd, Diane Smith, Lee Williams and others invested significant time in the child abuse project.
Reporter Jeff Caplan was tasked with exploring Las Vegas Trail and knew there was a meaningful story to share — but uncovering it did not come easy. He walked up and down area streets for weeks, asking people if they would talk with him.
The result? A deep dive into the acute challenges (poverty, crime, drugs, prostitution and much more) in the area, which is less than a mile from one of the most financially secure parts of Fort Worth.
We stuck with it, reporting on a bus tour by the mayor and others over the summer and then the creation of a special team that’s working on how the city, nonprofits and businesses can better support the area.
We put pressure on specific motels and apartments that take advantage of their clientele and on bad days look the other way when illegal behavior occurs on their property. These places are now under the watchful eye of the city, and lawsuits have recently been filed against two of them.
Many of you came out to support the neighborhood during a community conversation we hosted at Western Hills Primary School over the summer, and many more have given your time and treasure to the schools that serve the Trail.
In 2018, we plan to embed reporters in a handful of other North Texas micro-communities that are facing significant challenges. Our hope is you will again help create a better future for those who need it.
Every day we’ve got a tremendous opportunity to work for the greater good. But only because of your support. A local news organization is only as strong as the community it works for.
In September, many gave more directly — helping to raise funds for Harvey victims by dropping off diapers, toiletries, blankets and more — during a donation drive that filled up two 24-foot-long trucks with goods that went to our friends down south.
As the second half of 2017 unfolded, we detailed how certain family court records were not discoverable. The county clerk and local judges got together to find a solution, which now enables you to search for these records by the name of the person involved in the case.
That’s another value — working for transparency and access to documents that as taxpayers we all have a right to inspect.
More recently, we’ve written about the Fort Worth school board’s decision to remove its ethics policy. Until we reported on its removal, there was no public process to develop a new one.
This is important because the district now has $750 million in taxpayer-approved money to spend on building new schools and upgrading others, thanks to a bond measure that passed in November. Local contractors can and do receive work from the district. And like any other entity, they can make gifts and donate to the board’s election campaign funds.
We can devote reporting resources to the difference-making work because you support us. Whether it’s via a digital subscription, by taking the paper at your home or by liking our Facebook page (tell your friends they can too!), you’re participating in local journalism.
Thank you. More than anything over this holiday season, we want to be sure you know we can’t do it without you. And that we’re grateful.