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Thank You, Hartland — For Everything

Local editor Christofer Machniak leaves Hartland Patch for a new job.

Good morning, Hartland … I have news that may surprise you: Today is my last day as your local editor.

Recently, I accepted a job with MLive Media Group in Ann Arbor. And while moving on wasn't an easy decision, it was a career opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I'll be helping one of the state’s largest media companies with the ongoing online journalism revolution.

Filling in on an interim basis will be Hartland resident Tatum Ryan, who has done amazing work as a freelance contributor. You can reach her via email at tatumryan@gmail.com.

As I look back, I am exceedingly proud that I’m leaving a vibrant, engaging, community-focused website that did not exist when I started 16 months ago. We’ve more than tripled our monthly audience over this time, generating just more than 800 likes on Facebook and attracting more than 275 Twitter followers — huge numbers for a tiny community like Hartland.

And the real reason Hartland Patch has succeeded is all of you. It’s been the photos you submitted, the stories you shared and the comments that you posted. It's also been the dedicated freelance contributors who worked long hours to help cover the community since October 2010 (Tom Tolen, Tina DeBord, Jan Cartwright, Anne Seebaldt, Blake Hasenzahl, Jennifer Whitbeck, David Lee, Mike Scott, Sherri Yezbick-Taylor, Tony Kendall, Megan Baughman, Chris Wall, Linda Brown, Dan Strawser, Josh Henschke, Bob Ruby, Jon Morgan, Kaylee Lentz, Stacy Swann and Alexa Marsh-Anderson).

My humble role has been just helping to unearth and share snippets of something special that already was here.

From producing a video about the from a courtyard at to the marsh behind it to chronicling one of Hartland's most important traditions on Memorial Day, it has been a privilege to reflect what it's like to live here and cover the news of the day.

And it’s a story that needs to be told because before taking this job, my family had lived in Hartland for five years and we really didn’t know the community. I think there are many Hartland residents, who, like us, could benefit from visiting our wonderful , discovering our very own Hartland Community Aquatic and Fitness Center and watching live theater at the historic .

And if you have children, there are so many opportunities with youth sports (baseball, softball, football, basketball, cheer, equestrian, soccer, swimming, gymnastics, wrestling, archery, hockey and lacrosse) and club activities ranging from scouting to 4-H — all right here.

We are so much more than the bustling intersection of M-59 and U.S. 23.

Not that there aren’t problems or faults — and we’ve documented some, too, as is our job — but they are typical and similar to most any town of our size. What sets us apart, I believe, is how everyone is so willing to help out when times are tough.

We've rallied behind Kendal Lividini, , , , , and … just to name a few.

To add to that positive momentum in our community and hopefully spark a conversation or two, let me offer a modest suggestion — We should consider painting our water tower with something that signifies how special the community is. Maybe it could be a big red heart, or a barn — but it should be something emblematic of Hartland to show people as they drive down M-59 that there’s something unique here.

In addition, a simpler, daily way to recognize and remember who we are would be to just keep using Hartland Patch and telling everyone you run into to do the same.

Don't stop commenting on stories and sending in news tips. Post an announcement, upload an event or share photos and videos. Keep using this powerful virtual tool that can help make our lives easier and bring us closer together.

I will.

Editor's note: If you'd like to stay in touch with Christofer Machniak, feel free to email him at tofermachniak@yahoo.com, friend him on Facebook or say 'hi' when you see him around town. He and his family will continue to live at their home in .

Karen Jo Crouse January 13, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Chris, you have introduced many of us to our own community. You have encoraged us to use our voices. And, you have given us an avenue from which to be heard. Through your hard work and dedication you have not let us forget what a great community we have here in Hartland - something we sometimes take for granted. MLive Media Group has chosen the best to join their ranks. Congratulations! Karen Crouse
Karen Jo Crouse January 13, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Happy Birthday Tatum! And may I say, The Patch is being left in very capable hands! Karen Crouse
ShyrlAnn Cone January 13, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Wow, Chris, SO, SO sorry to see you go, but I wish you all the best in your new endeavor. Congratulations, and please stop by and see us from time to time (you know where Bob and I will be on Heritage Day, anyway.....)!
Sherri Yezbick-Taylor January 14, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Chris, I can't thank you enough for everything you have taught me! I am sorry to see you go but am happy for you on your new position. You have brought the Hartland Patch far! Thank you again for all of your patience!! Your loyal and frustrating freelancer Sherri And...Happy Birthday Tatum!!!!!!!!!!
Michael A Rosinski January 24, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Chris - best wishes for success in your new endavors.

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