General assignment reporter Mari Hall presents her five favorite stories of 2019.

I've spent most of my life in Billings. My family moved here when I was 4 years old and later I graduated from Skyview High School. When I left Billings to attend the University of Montana in Missoula, I drove away feeling as though I understood my hometown pretty well.

Even though I've only been with the Billings Gazette for about five months now, I've gotten to understand the city of Billings in new and unique ways.

I lived in the Heights most of my life and was stuck in my own little world. Now, as a reporter, I learn something new every day. I venture into scenes with officers, firefighters and emotional families and neighbors. I cover events full of new insights into other cultures, opinions, and viewpoints, and I attend meetings on Billings' inner workings of its government and city. I have come to realize that there is more to Billings than the quiet neighborhood I grew up in.

I hope to unravel more of what makes the city tick and cover stories that matter. The five stories I chose demonstrate some of that, with a story about a West End resident finding his home crushed by a boulder from the Rims, and a group of people from Ballantine helping homeowners repair hail storm damage before winter.

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