"Do you know what would be really cool?"
These words from Mercury reporter Brandie Kessler were usually followed by:
"I know you probably don't want to do this, and you can say this is a dumb idea -- you're the boss, you do what you want, but I was just thinking wouldn't it be cool if ..."
A soliloquy along those lines preceded a number of really cool ideas that we have embraced at The Mercury and turned to successes for this newspaper and the community of the Pottstown area.
We collected more than 16,000 food items for area food pantries and nearly 1,000 containers of laundry detergent by joining efforts with TownSquare bloggers to spread the word about dwindling food supplies last winter.
We created a Pinterest board of Most Wanted criminals in area police departments, getting pictures out to the public on a platform they use. Tips have led to arrests, which make police happy and make us proud.
We are posting cards with donors' names to Operation Holiday on the window of The Mercury Community Media Lab as a colorful display and a thank you to the readers who send us thousands of dollars for our holiday giving program.
Another cool idea.
Brandie's coolest idea, at least in her mind, was raising money for the Pottstown Relay for Life by taking donations to pie a Mercury employee in the face at the Bark for Life event. The 2008 collection raised $2,700 and gave Brandie the opportunity to throw a banana cream pie in my face.
Schuylkill River Sojourn last summer to live-blog four days of the river journey, traveling in her kayak, tweeting and taking video along the way.
I prevailed, and the blog was a gem.
Another idea I recently had was that she apply for a reporting job at our larger sister paper, the York Daily Record/Sunday News. I had learned about the job from colleagues at York, and I told her it was an opportunity she should not pass up. At least go for the interview, I insisted.
Again, the retorts that there are too many stories in Pottstown still to write, too much work still to be done.
But she went, and the rest, as they say, is history. Sunday was her last official day at The Mercury. She stopped in Monday though and I expect to see her again this week.
Brandie is one of a kind.
Her passion for reporting, her dedication to this craft, her persistence for excellence and her fearsome loyalty to her colleagues and others around her is unmatched.
That's why we already miss her.
And watch out.
You could end up with banana cream on your face.