2012-05-26T09:20:00Z 2012-12-03T17:59:04Z LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER nwitimes.com
May 26, 2012 9:20 am



If you want to know don't hesitate to ask, I have usually have a position on what I think is the best. (Well, except when it comes to music, an area where I pretty much like everything and I have never been able to decide.) So when I learned that we had set an all-time record with this year's Best of balloting at 213,694 votes in almost 130 categories, I was understandably curious. Not only has this contest grown more competitive each year, it has taken on importance for our top businesses – both national and local – to measure the success of their brands. Would the vote be a true test of what is really the best in our Lake Michigan regional area? With so many platforms and devices out there, with so many distractingly fun things to do – news 24/7 on nwi.com mobile app is my top choice, but I've also been known to inhabit Facebook especially when my kids are posting – would our readers participate and step-up for our local businesses?

For the most part over the past three years of this competition that is in its 18th season, we seem to have completely adjusted to not having to fill out slips of paper. (Although we did take paper ballots from our retirement communities who wanted to participate but couldn't any other way.) We also coordinated to streamline the voting process for busy parents who wanted to support the pre-schools and daycare centers where their children start learning and socializing away from home. You may have noticed there have been some changes in this year's contest: More than 50 categories have been added, many in the growing area of health care in targeted categories like urgent care, spine injuries, heart disease and pain management. And we have divided the best place to live contest by state, to accommodate lifestyles and age groups of all our Shore and Times Media readers. Due to lack of interest on the part of readers and to keep the ballot at decent length we have eliminated businesses or categories. There has been push back, this year from tattoo parlors and DJs. We will be revisiting those two topics and the whole ballot again next year. So if you see that one of your favorites is overlooked, let us know by commenting on this letter or bring it to our attention on our nwi.com Facebook page. Lots of winners reminded their friends and fans to get online and vote through social networks including the Towle Theater in Hammond and a certain well-known chef in downtown Valparaiso.

Right now I want to congratulate our top 20 vote getters: 1. Dunkin' Donuts, 2. Schoops, 3. Three Floyds Brewery, 4. City of Chicago, 5. Strack & Van Til, 6. Stardust, 7. Buffalo Wild Wings, 8. Museum of Science and Industry, 9. City of Crown Point, 10. Purdue Calumet, 11. Radisson Merrillville, 12. Best Buy, 13. AMC, 14. Coldstone Creamery, 15. Blue Top Drive-In, Highland, 16. Taste of Chicago, 17. Centier, 18. Butterfinger's Bakery, 19. El Taco Real and 20. Community Hospital. Really every single business that placed in the top three is truly a winner, this contest was intense. And thanks to all of our readers for taking the time to vote and support your favorites.

You are the best!

Bill Masterson, Jr.


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