This time last year, I was helping customers at the after-Christmas sales at L.S. Ayres in Greenwood, Ind., wondering what the world could possibly hold for me.

I'd just graduated from college, with little more than a small portfolio of my clips from Purdue's daily student newspaper, The Exponent.

Faced with the warning I'd received in school that it was unlikely I'd get a job at a daily newspaper, I wasn't feeling very good about myself.

Then, the day after Christmas, I got an e-mail from a Laura Mabry at the Commercial-News in a place called Danville, Ill., describing a general assignment reporting position that focused on education. She had seen my resume online and wanted to know if I wanted to apply for the job.

I'd never heard of Danville, but I hurriedly replied to her e-mail with links to my writing samples.

Now Laura is my boss and mentor, and I hate the cliche, but the rest is history.

My life is changed forever because of the Commercial-News.

So much has happened in the last 10 months. I can't believe I'm lucky enough to have my own column after I've been a professional journalist for less than a year.

Exploring Vermilion County, meeting new people and describing my discoveries from a Hoosier's viewpoint to you in "Through Anna's Eyes," has been an experience I'd never trade for anything.

I love listening to your stories, seeing new places and learning more about what makes Danville tick.

I learned that a community once thrived on the land of Kennekuk County Park. Walking through the area with Robert Makemson, he told me stories of his childhood that remind me of a Norman Rockwell painting.

I found the best burger in town at the Moon-Glo Inn, and I went shopping at the fine retail establishments in downtown Danville and at the Village Mall.

I've learned that small-town charms are irreplaceable.

But there's still plenty left on my to-do list.

There are only two days left in 2005 - I'm on vacation as you're reading this - but I've determined my resolutions for next year, which I plan to keep.

Below are my goals for 2006. I will:

- Eat more moonburgers, and share the Moon-Glo with family and friends when they visit.

- Go back to Kennekuk when the weather warms up for a bike ride.

- Visit Kickapoo Park. This is the only park I've not visited, so exploration is a must.

- Drink more Java Hut and Charlotte's coffee. Their drinks are so much better than Starbucks.

- Browse through Blue Kangaroo Books.

- Buy some (actual vinyl) records at Chart Records. I'm getting into my brother's collecting habit, so I plan to browse the racks again soon.

- Eat frozen custard. I told you months ago that I was on my way to Custard Cup, but I got deterred. This summer, I promise it's the first thing I'll do.

- Take more country drives. On my way to and from Rossville for various assignments, I felt like I was in too big of a hurry to enjoy the scenery. I'd also like to get a better look at Lake Vermilion in the spring.

- Explore Westville, Rossville and Georgetown. These are three little towns I've driven through, but never stopped in.

Please write and tell me what I should visit.

- Shop at Elder-Beerman. Their sales are great, and I haven't been in there often enough.

- Patronize Wal-Mart's grocery section. I found some of the best prices and variety in town.

- Find more excuses to eat at the Beef House near Covington, Ind. If you've eaten there, this doesn't require explanation.

- Attend a Danville High School home football game. I'd like to see the Marching Vikings perform, and of course, cheer on the home team.

- See a performance on the Fischer Theatre stage. I can't get enough of Danville's grandest theater.

- Dine at the Little Nugget and Schroeder's. Both are highly recommended.

- Explore Danville's nightlife. I'm thinking Fat Man's or The Factory.

OK - that's pretty comprehensive. I'll expect angry e-mails and letters if this list isn't accomplished this time next year.

Happy New Year. Here's to all the great things and people I'll write about in 2006.

Anna Herkamp can be reached at 477-5163 or aherkamp@dancomnews.com.

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