Column: Watching Crundwell-related story take off
|Sauk Valley Media reporter Kiran Sood covers government and happenings in Sterling and Rock Falls. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 800-798-4085, ext. 529.|
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STERLING – As part of our coverage of the misappropriation of millions of taxpayer dollars in Dixon, other reporters and I were working on a larger story recently.
We were interviewing leaders of many of our area cities, townships, county boards, schools and park districts to ask the question: Could it happen here? We wanted to find out what practices were in place to prevent fraud from happening in other communities.
As part of the story, I sat down with Sterling City Manager Scott Shumard, Finance Director Cindy Von Holten, and the city’s management intern, Hadley Skeffington-Vos.
During the conversation, I asked Shumard what his initial reaction was to the news from Dixon.
He told me things finally made sense.
Shumard had been comparing annual financial reports for a few years. Out of more than 30 cities he compared, just two had a negative fund balance in their general fund, he said.
Although I went into the conversation to get material for our larger story, I walked away with another great story. The city manager of a major city in our coverage area had said that he noticed red flags that stood out in the financial reports he had examined.
Further, he said he had spoken to someone in Dixon city government about those red flags, though he hasn’t said who he told.
I filed the story, and it appeared in our newspaper last Monday. Later that day, I discovered my story had been picked up by the Boston Herald. The paper ran the story online and included an AP video of Rita Crundwell.
Shumard’s observations made it all the way to the East Coast.
The next day, Quad Cities television station KWQC ran its own version with Shumard’s observations.
I’ve since found out he has been asked to speak to other media, as well.
It’s been interesting to see how other news organizations have picked up on this story and others we’ve reported at SVM.
On a story this big, every note of interest takes off.
Talking the Twin Cities talk
STERLING – A member of the Sterling Kiwanis Club called me not too long ago to ask whether I would speak to his group.
He had been reading this column, Twin Cities Talk, and wanted to know a little bit more about it. He was curious about how I develop ideas for the column and what it’s like to report on Sterling and Rock Falls.
I was excited for the opportunity, and got to address the group last week at CGH’s Ryberg Auditorium.
To begin with, I spoke briefly about how the idea for the column developed and its main purpose. I gave some examples of how I’ve used it and what I hope to accomplish.
Afterward, club members asked some great questions about how we determine coverage, followed by a discussion on the future of print media.
I was asked whether my goal with Twin Cities Talk, aimed at both Sterling and Rock Falls issues, was to bring unity to the community.
It was a good question. It is one of my goals. As I said during the presentation, only a bridge separates the two communities.
Similarly, by alternating my “office hours” between the Twin Cities, I want people to know I am the reporter for both towns and don’t favor one over the other.
As for the future of print media, I told the group that there always will be a need for skilled writers to gather and present the news to readers. As a local newspaper, I believe, we provide a valuable source of information on what’s happening in our communities.
I’m really glad I was invited to speak. I always like talking about the column and my passion for the cities of Sterling and Rock Falls and their potential for future development. It really is an exciting time for residents in the area.
To the members of the club, thank you for the chance to get to know some of you better, and thanks for reading.
Sauk Valley Media reporter Kiran Sood covers government and happenings in Sterling and Rock Falls. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 800-798-4085, ext. 529.
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