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Happy New Year! Let's Keep Talking in 2014

There will be plenty to discuss in the coming weeks, and we look forward to hearing from you -- the wise readers of North Druid Hills-Briarcliff Patch.

As a new year begins, it's time to reflect on the past year and on what's to come.

North Druid Hills-Briarcliff Patch recently celebrated -- quietly -- a milestone of sorts, its third birthday.

It's been a little over two months since I started handling this Patch, building upon the foundation created by two former local editors, Jonathan Cribbs and Kiri Walton.

I've learned one thing pretty quickly. A core group of people come to this Patch every day, even many times a day. These people -- some of whom I've had the pleasure of meeting -- engage in discussion and manage to avoid the personal attacks and pettiness that mar many a website. I hope to sit down and have coffee with many more of you.

I manage the editors of 25 Georgia Patches and, trust me, the discussion here more resembles the dinner table at "Downton Abbey" than the free-fire zones we've encountered in more toxic neighborhoods or towns. I won't name those places.

While some comments have been inappropriate, I must say the vast majority of the comments here on my watch have been thoughtful and constructive. We recently ran a story examining the number of people with advanced degrees in the neighborhood -- yes, it was a high number -- but the explanation is deeper than that. We have a group of readers passionate about their community, and it shows.

I've lived in the Oak Grove neighborhood for 29 years. Until two months ago, I had never written a word about the North Druid Hills-Briarcliff area, despite 19 years as an editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and eight more working on the digital side for Cox Newspapers. I've had two children grow up here and graduate from college after attending Oak Grove Elementary, Shamrock Middle and Lakeside High School, a mile or so from my modest home.

I've had a crash course over the past two months on the issue of cityhood and other local issues. I've been to Lakeside and Briarcliff cityhood meetings and seen first hand supporters in both groups who care about their communities.

I plan to continue to provide a place where people of all views can feel free to weigh in on the issues affecting our area.

The Legislature soon will be taking up the question of new cities in DeKalb.  It's clear that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the county, and recent convictions and investigations of county officials only reinforce the notion that people here want more local control over their government and their schools.

The issues are complex and daunting, but we hope to use this space as a starting point for reasonable people to reasonably discuss what's on their minds.

Happy New Year, Patch readers! I'm thankful for a blessed 2013 and for your readership and discussion. Let's keep talking in 2014.

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