By Carolyn Marnon – “We want to create a vehicle for people to have a connection to their community,” said John Rhaesa, Publisher, in the first issue of The Wayne Dispatch that appeared November 2008. The paper is celebrating its 10-year anniversary as a staple of the Wayne community. The first year of publication John was Publisher, small business owner and Wayne resident…10 years later he is still the Publisher of The Wayne Dispatch, small business owner, Rotarian, served seven years on the Wayne City Council, and was elected to be the next Mayor of Wayne.
Found at various locations throughout Wayne, including the Wayne Public Library, Wayne City Hall, Northside Hardware and Hype Athletics, the paper has tried to live up to its mission to be a source of positive community news. Several former Wayne residents choose to stay updated on the Wayne community by following the paper’s website: thewaynedispatch.com. One item residents like to stay informed about is the “Concerts in Goudy Park” series. Beginning in 2013 our summers have been ‘Rocking’ with bands of all genres. This past summer two extra concerts were added, bringing our concert series to eight weeks. Not only did the music draw a crowd, several crafters, vendors and food trucks were available for our concert goers to enjoy as well.
“I can’t believe it has been 10 years since The Wayne Dispatch began spreading positive community news,” says former editor Jenny Johnson. “Working alongside John and Natalie Rhaesa to build something from the ground up was exciting, challenging and rewarding. We believed, and still do, in the mission to share the stories of the people and places in Wayne. So even when it was minutes until we had to go to press and we were still proofing pages, trying to come up with headlines and finalizing ads, we did not think of it as work. Each month we were fulfilling a promise we made to share positive community news.”
A look back at that first issue shows how the community has changed. In 2015 “Holiday Night at the Museum” was created to make our Tree Lighting Ceremony an even cozier family event. The residents enjoy hot cocoa, cookies, crafts for the kids, face painting, petting farm, photos with Santa inside our great Historical Museum, musical talent, fire pits and the good company of neighbors and friends. This event has been successfully attended each year.
The mural on the State Wayne Theater was being completed 10 years ago. The mural is an icon in the community today. Hal Hultman was quoted as saying in that first issue, “The concept of the mural was to draw people to the downtown and instill a sense of pride in the community.” Over these past 10 years the State Wayne Theater was purchased by Phoenix Theater, who continue to give moviegoers that “hometown” feel while providing high quality sound, digital display, reclining seats (with heat) and the most delicious popcorn and concessions around. Not to mention two “Red Carpet” events that could rival the Hollywood scene.
Wayne City Clerk Matthew Miller, who was the City Planner 10 years ago, started writing a column for the paper called “Rearview Mirror” portraying some of the interesting history of Wayne. Following Mr. Miller, Darlene Hawley continues to educate the community on the history of our fine city with her column “Memory Lane.”
That first issue also made mention of a library event on the history of Eloise. Eloise is still a topic of discussion in the community with history talks given at regular intervals, the opening of the Eloise museum at the Westland Historic Village this past spring and the most recent tours of Eloise allowed by the new owner who acquired the property earlier this year.
Dee Ryan brought you “Footprints of Wayne” with her reflections on life in Wayne and on her street. Sadly, Dee passed in September at the age of 85. According to Jenny “Dee Ryan was a gem. Her column “Footprints of Wayne” was a monthly letter she wrote to the residents, her friends, in Wayne. She was our social reporter and loved to share the news of her beloved community. From the Literary Club to the Garden Club to the Biddle Street Bunch, Dee gave us the latest news on the social scene. I will always remember her friendly phone calls when she had her article done and wanted to make sure I received it.”
Jenny reflected on her Dispatch experience. “During my six years with the Dispatch, I was fortunate to cover the business, church and school communities, meet dozens of amazing and inspirational people and learn how hard the city officials, staff and civic organizations work to support Wayne. I learned something from every story I ever wrote and every person I met. However, one family and one little girl taught me the most.
“I will never forget Alissa Jennings and her amazingly strong family. They were going through the heartbreak of having a terminally ill child, and they were kind and brave enough to welcome us into their lives so we could tell her story. This sweet angel was full of life, love, and inspiration and captured the heart of everyone she met. We saw an entire community wrap their arms around the Jennings family. The school and business community worked together to throw a surprise party for Alissa and her sister, Brooke. The 2008 Miss Michigan, Ashlee Baracy, attended the event and formed an incredible bond with Alissa and her family.
“Civic organizations and local businesses found a way to have Alissa and her family not only attend a Jonas Brothers concert but to also meet the band.
“Though we lost Alissa, this story taught us that we are at our best when we work together and help each other.”
“We’re excited to celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Wayne Dispatch,” said Natalie Rhaesa. “We’ve enjoyed attending many of the community events, getting to know a lot of our business owners and neighbors better. We want to thank all of our supporters and advertisers who’ve supported us over the years. We look forward to serving the community for many more years to come.”
What will happen in the next 10 years? Only time will tell, but The Wayne Dispatch hopes to be there to record the news of the Wayne community. “Remember the vision of The Wayne Dispatch is still the same–spread positive community news,” says Jenny. “Share and celebrate the accomplishments of others and support and help others who need it.”