The Finest 2012

Don’t you love it when you discover a great restaurant, a new boutique or a dentist that you’re not afraid to go to? Don’t you just want to share that find with everyone?

At the Crescenta Valley Weekly, we wanted to give our readers the opportunity to share their favorites – those people, places and businesses that they felt were the finest in their league.

But this was a new venture for us. I knew how to put together a great newspaper, but create a mechanism where our readers could voice their opinion, voting on those they felt were the “finest?” It seemed more than a little daunting. But then stepped in CVW sales diva Kim Mekelberg and designer extraordinaire Steve Hernandez.

These two have a wealth of newspaper experience between them and share a “can do” attitude. When I broached the subject of creating a CVW Finest reader’s choice ballot, Kim and Steve eagerly said, “Yes, we can do that!”

So in June, we all worked to create a ballot that included dozens of categories to give our readers a broad range on which to vote. Our entire staff offered direction on what categories they would like to see. Once that was refined and the finishing design touches were made, we invited our readers to cast their ballots.

We had no idea how many ballots we’d receive. After all, it’s one thing when people say they’d like to share their favorites, quite another for them to take the time to actually fill out a ballot and get it back to us. I, for one, was nervous as to what kind of response we’d get.

Silly me.

Typical of Crescenta Valley Weekly readers, the response was overwhelming. Over 700 ballots were cast and, for the first time at the rodeo, that was pretty impressive.

CVW readers, it seemed, couldn’t wait to have their voices heard. Whether it was a place to dine, a shop to get an auto fixed or a trail to hike, our folks knew where to go.

Once all the ballots were collected, the arduous task of going through them all fell to our office manager Lisa Mitchell – and what a task it was!

Thankfully, Lisa knows how to organize things (she does a great job here keeping us all in order), and though it took some time, she was able to sort through all the ballots to distill the votes down to those that met the criteria. Unfortunately over 100 votes were disqualified because they didn’t have any contact information on them or didn’t have the minimum 10 categories voted on.

Once qualified, she had to tally them by category until – ta dah! – we knew who the finest were.

The sales folks – Kim Mekelberg, Lisa Stanners and Lisa Yeghiayan (yes, we have an abundance of Lisas here) – took to the streets with the good news to share with the winners. What a happy job that was! When they found out that they had been chosen by our readers as being a “cut above,” most were eager to say thanks. That’s when Steve, with fellow amazing CVW designer Matt Barger, really got to work, creating thank yous for the Finest recipients.

And that is what you now hold in your hands – the culmination of months of hard work that started from the seed of an idea to designing and distributing ballots to collecting and counting them to sharing the results with you.

On pages 36 and 37 is the complete list of all the winners chosen by you, CV Weekly readers, as being the Finest. On these pages you’ll also get the chance to learn a little more about those winners.

Some of the faces may be familiar, some may be brand new but when you’re looking for the finest places, people or businesses you’ll be confident that they’re who your friends and neighbors have chosen as the finest.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the process and I look forward to next year when we do it all again!

Please view the files below of the Finest 2012 and the Winners List.

Winners List 2012