We are close to ending our first year producing HSJ Online, our local not-for-profit and free reading online publication, and have much to celebrate! HSJ Online was launched in January 2015 by the Media Division of Heritage of Hope, Inc. to cover Northeastern Bartholomew County news and information following the demise of the area's long-running newspaper, The Hope Star-Journal, after the death of Larry Simpson, the paper's owner/publisher/editor.

I vividly recall an early meeting which there was a discussion about how much money we should strive to raise during our first year. Then, Tim Andrews offered a $10,000 matching grant. We were all pleasantly pleased when his generous grant was met in about 6 months. Afterward, the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Local Endowment wished to support our efforts and offered a $5,000 matching grant which was recently met. Time after time, people within our community have stepped up to help us reach our monetary goals of paying our expenses and establishing business stability.

Our site manager, 1Up out of Kokomo, started releasing some stats for us to consider immediately with over 3,000 Unique Visitors, 6,000 Total Visits, 17,000 Total Page Views, and well over 700 Facebook Likes after the first month. Needless to state, we were thrilled.

We are now over 72,000 Unique Visitors, 102,000 Total Visits, 175,000 Total Page Views, and just over 1,000 Facebook Likes at the end of one year. The numbers are absolutely amazing!

After six months, we started offering space for advertising. Several organizations and businesses requested an advertising spot. We can't thank them enough because ads help with our expenses and help us support good local causes. Others will soon be joining them as we go into 2016.

Paul Minnis and Jennifer Willhite are now helping us better cover more school and town events. We may be hiring other writers because there is a lot going on in our corner of Bartholomew County. Like all, we look forward to the Main Street program and what it will mean to the future of our community.

Several people and organizations consistently submit material to John Clark, our content coordinator. We are certainly appreciative of all while mentioning just a few. Mike Asher has been very helpful in regard to local sports. We have an outstanding FFA program at Hauser, and their reporters, Annie Ashbrook and Haley Embry, do a commendable job keeping our community informed of their many activities. It is always good to hear from Bud Herron, Dave Miller, Mel Fox, and Barb Johnson. Dietrich Smith, a Hauser student, will soon be writing a column, The Day & The Life of Dietrich Smith. Shelley Young, a long-time community resident, will soon be writing a column, From The Farm, about adventures with her goats, other animals, and ...

John Clark's experiences in media and his ability to maintain all the logistics involved with an online publication can not be praised enough. We are thankful that Stephanie Shoaf agreed to be an important part of our team after being with The Hope Star-Journal for years

Indeed, it has been a tremendous year for HSJ Online! Undoubtedly, there are challenges with any new business; however, we are more confident in moving forward after our first year due to the right combination of people, technology, time, effort, and donations.

In the meantime, there are still many people not aware of our existence. We would appreciate it if you would inform your family and your friends about how to tune in to us at hsjonline.org.