Correction: Meet the Quincy reporter July 19

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Quincy reporter Mary Whitfil with her fiancé, Kyle, and dog, Ranger.
Quincy reporter Mary Whitfil with her fiancé, Kyle, and dog, Ranger.

Correction: Meet reporter Mary Whitfill July 19

Reporter Mary Whifill will be hosting open hours from 8 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 19, at Italian Cafe Gelato in Quincy Center. Feel free to stop by 17 Chestnut St. and grab a coffee, ask questions or just make a suggestion. You can also email her at mwhitfill@patriotledger.com.

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Editor's note: Patriot Ledger reporter Mary Whitfill, who covers Quincy and a whole lot more on the South Shore, has taken over this week's newsletter to introduce herself and talk about Quincy. If you're interested in news beyond Quincy, please read to the bottom of this newsletter for news from other South Shore communities.

You probably don't know me. But if you live in Quincy, I know you.

I'm Mary Whitfill, The Patriot Ledger's Quincy reporter. I'm taking over this week's newsletter to bring you all of the latest news from the city – the good, the bad and the delicious.

But first, I wanted to introduce myself and break down how I try to cover this thriving community. I've worked at the Ledger for almost five years, and covered Quincy for about two. My fiancé and I moved here in August 2020 (we got engaged our first day in our new apartment). We live with our matching black animals: a dog, Ranger, and a cat, Nox. I'm a Texas native and my family has a small farm just outside Dallas.

Quincy reporter Mary Whitfill bottle feeds a baby goat named Liesl on her family's farm in Texas.
Quincy reporter Mary Whitfill bottle feeds a baby goat named Liesl on her family's farm in Texas.

In the last year, I've covered topics ranging from housing affordability to COVID spending to continuing development, schoolsgovernment scandals and new restaurants. I also have my own passion project here at the Ledger, covering the small businesses of artisans based in Quincy and beyond who are chasing their dreams during a tough economic time.

Living in the city has transformed the way I look for news, cover stories and tackle topics of interest to Quincy residents. I regularly meet with the mayor and attend city council meetings, hear from community groups and individual residents about the issues affecting them and am out in the city every day noticing headline-worthy trends and topics.

Since I fancy myself a bit of a Quincy expert (but would never dare to call myself a native), I thought I'd share with you  five Quincy must-dos:

Walk the Presidents Trail

This is probably a multiday endeavor for most people, but it's a perfect way to really soak up all the city's history if you're into that kind of thing. Stop by the newly opened tourism center downtown for a map and make your way along miles of history, from the birthplace of John Adams to the Abigail Adams Cairn and the Dorothy Quincy Homestead, the childhood home of John Hancock's wife. The gardens there alone are worth the trip.

Crocus blossoms rise to the sun, a sure sign of spring at the Dorothy Quincy Homestead off Hancock Street in Quincy.
Crocus blossoms rise to the sun, a sure sign of spring at the Dorothy Quincy Homestead off Hancock Street in Quincy.

Support local businesses

One thing to know about me: I'm always going to shop local :) There are so many talented and passionate artisans in Quincy. Here's a quick rundown of some of my favorites. For flowers: DDS Blooms. For gifts: William James Gifts. For home goods: Salt and Branch. For cards and paper goods: Lexi Mayde. For coffee/breakfast: Italian Cafe Gelato. For lunch: Garden Patch by the SeaFor dinner: Liberty Tavern. For dessert: Sala by Fratelli's. For drinks: Pour Yard.

Sunflowers are among the flowers on offer at DDS Blooms.
Sunflowers are among the flowers on offer at DDS Blooms.

Take a self-guided parks tour

There are more than two dozen parks in Quincy, and they're a major point of pride for parks-director-turned-mayor Thomas Koch. Green grass, water features, statues and more await in every corner of the city. My favorites are Merrymount (explore all the way to Blacks Creek) and the new Kincaide Park (especially if you have kids).

Go to a rugby game

The window to catch a Free Jacks game will have closed by the time you get this email, but there's no harm in preparing for next year. The New England Free Jacks team is now based out of the city and people have quickly discovered just how fun it can be, even if you're like me and don't know anything about rugby.

The Free Jacks, who have possession of the ball during a recent match, have partnered with Hillside Harvest, making it the official hot sauce of the Quincy-based rugby team.
The Free Jacks, who have possession of the ball during a recent match, have partnered with Hillside Harvest, making it the official hot sauce of the Quincy-based rugby team.

Some of our most recent Quincy stories

Change and the City

The most recent installment of our ongoing Change and the City series looks at how Quincy's rising population, continued development and gentrification have affected crime and public safety in the city.

Quincy's population has been increasing steadily – from roughly 88,000 in 2000 to 92,000 in 2010 and 101,636 in 2020, the U.S. Census reports. That means thousands more people on city streets and in local restaurants, shops, beaches, dwellings and parks.

Public safety officials have been preparing for this change since the $1.6 billion redevelopment of Quincy's downtown area started in 2005. Here's how it's gone. 

Quincy police officer Greg Hartnett patrols the Hancock-Adams Common in Quincy Square using a Segway scooter on Monday, May 3, 2021.
Quincy police officer Greg Hartnett patrols the Hancock-Adams Common in Quincy Square using a Segway scooter on Monday, May 3, 2021.

Quincy approves $53 million for Quincy Center

The city will be able to buy properties on Hancock Street and Parkingway, improve major downtown intersections and start planning for a 1,000-plus-space parking garage with a recently approved $53 million extension of Quincy's District Improvement Financing, or DIF, program.

The DIF is a complicated financial program but the gist is that the city borrows money to do work in Quincy Center, then uses tax revenue from new downtown buildings to pay it back. This is the fourth DIF allocation in the last 15 years. 

The 1600 block of Hancock Street in Quincy Center, which the city is going to buy and flip to a developer.
The 1600 block of Hancock Street in Quincy Center, which the city is going to buy and flip to a developer.

Let's Eat, Ledgerland: Vegan food at the beach

When we think of fish and chips, steak and cheese subs or meat lovers' pizza, there is one word that decidedly doesn't come to mind: vegan. That's what restaurant owner Craig Somers, of Sharon, is looking to change.

Somers and his son Travis opened Garden Patch by the Sea on Wollaston Beach this spring, replacing breakfast and sandwich shop Maddie's Cafe. The menu looks like familiar beach fare with crabcakes, seafood platters and personal pizzas, but it's missing common ingredients like meat, butter, lard, eggs and cow's milk.

Read more here.

The falafel salad made with chickpeas, hummus and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing at Garden Patch by the Sea on Wollaston Beach.
The falafel salad made with chickpeas, hummus and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing at Garden Patch by the Sea on Wollaston Beach.

Spending federal COVID money

Of the roughly $57 million Quincy received in combined American Rescue Plan Act and CARES Act money, Mayor Thomas Koch's administration has spent $44.3 million on land, school projects, grants for small businesses and nonprofits, creating new positions and more.

Of the money spent so far, $17.1 million went to COVID testing and vaccine-related initiatives, upgrades to air flow in public buildings and other obvious pandemic-related expenses. Here's where the rest of it went, and here's an even deeper dive into how money was given to local nonprofits.

From left, House Speaker Ron Mariano, Mayor Thomas Koch, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch and City Council President Nina Liang tout recovery aid to Quincy in a city hall press conference on Monday, March 15, 2021.
From left, House Speaker Ron Mariano, Mayor Thomas Koch, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch and City Council President Nina Liang tout recovery aid to Quincy in a city hall press conference on Monday, March 15, 2021.

Behind the lens: Capturing joyful moments

Patriot Ledger photographer Greg Derr takes you behind the scenes of some of his favorite recent photos, including a few he took at Quincy's graduation ceremonies earlier this month.

Amyah Davis, a National Honor Society member, with her diploma at Quincy High School graduation Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
Amyah Davis, a National Honor Society member, with her diploma at Quincy High School graduation Tuesday, June 7, 2022.

Derr is a 35-year veteran of The Patriot Ledger. He is a master photographer and author of two books, “Boston’s South Shore” and “Plymouth at Its Best.” He has covered everything from the Super Bowl to presidential Inaugurations while always maintaining his focus on the South Shore. Greg is also a former U.S. Olympian.

In other South Shore news

The Black Rock House in Cohasset was a large resort overlooking the ocean from Jerusalem Road and Atlantic Avenue. It was torn down in 1968. This image is from the Cohasset Historical Society collection. Thursday, June 2, 2022.
The Black Rock House in Cohasset was a large resort overlooking the ocean from Jerusalem Road and Atlantic Avenue. It was torn down in 1968. This image is from the Cohasset Historical Society collection. Thursday, June 2, 2022.
Dave Waller and Lynn Waller at the Graves Light Station on Thursday, June 23, 2022.
Dave Waller and Lynn Waller at the Graves Light Station on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Meet Patriot Ledger Quincy reporter Mary Whitfill