Hello, Fort Stockton

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Hello, Fort Stockton, it’s still me.

Honestly, I always have fun telling y’all what I’m thinking, and the subjects over the years have varied from studying my own navel (metaphorically—I haven’t talked about my bellybutton so far) to what’s going on in the national news regarding the politi-critters. Only a year ago, I was moaning over the fact that it was going to be yet another Bush vs. yet another Clinton.

Now we know how that’s turned out. Jeb Bush is looking better by the minute, considering the Republicans have decided they want well, Trump, to be our next president. I’ll leave my opinion on that one silent for the moment. If you read my columns, you’ll know what I think about Trump.

But this particular column is different—because if you look under my name up there in the box, you’ll see that I am no longer just your opinion columnist, I am now your managing editor.

I take the “your” part of that quite seriously, and you know I’m always happy to tell you why.

If you didn’t already know it, advertising is the majority of any newspaper’s revenues. These columns are meant to encourage people to pick up the paper to see that advertising.

I’ve always worked on the editorial side, and advertising pays my wages. That’s why our reporter and photographer Jeremy Gonzales and I leave it to the specialists, like the amazing and talented publisher/executive editor who hired me, as well as our hardworking advertising staffers.

Publisher Pam Palileo is very, very good at what she does. She has run the paper with the likes of me, and without, and the proof, my dears, is in the fact that The Fort Stockton Pioneer is still up and running.  Not just blowing smoke, boss, I swear!

My job, though, is no longer just to write this column. It’s also to keep you interested and involved and engaged in what’s happening in your community, so you will keep picking up the paper.

To that end, Pam has agreed to a concept that I brought in with me, and I couldn’t be more pleased. We would like to extend space on a regular basis to the folks who live in the communities around us who come here to shop and to get the services everyone needs. These vary from time to time, but from the restaurants to the tire and hardware shops to the grocery store and everywhere in between, Fort Stockton depends on the regular influx of people from communities like Iraan and Sheffield, Coyonosa, Imperial, Balmorhea and Sanderson, Marathon, Girvin, Grandfalls, Royalty and any I may have missed.

If we can garner enough interest, we would like to start a weekly column that will publish surrounding community’s news each week. That means we need someone in each area who’s willing to write—there’s just way too much acreage for our tiny staff to cover, so we’re asking for your help.

We’re tentatively titling the section “The Front Porch,” and that’s the kind of information we want: The same information you would sit around and talk about with the neighbors on your front porch, as in who’s traveling, who’s expecting, who’s celebrating a birthday, who won the dominoes tournament down at the VFW, and who’s opening a new business.  Is someone starting a new band? Did John Charles down at the city office get promoted? Did the basketball team win the tournament? Every community wants to know about their neighbors, and yours is no exception.

One of my old bosses told me years ago every person gets their name in the paper twice, when they’re born and when they die. He went on to say that the job of any community newspaper is to get their names in the paper as many times as possible in between.  Hopefully, spelled correctly.

That’s part of it, but it’s not all. We plan to start a readers’ advisory board for the paper over the summer and fall.  We’ll find a few folks in Fort Stockton pretty easily who will tell us what we need to expand, what we need to tone down, and in general, what people aren’t seeing that they want to see in the paper.

Anyone who writes for “The Front Porch” will automatically be invited to be on the Reader’s Advisory Board, as well the Fort Stocktonites.  We’ll feed you lunch every so often, and pick your brains for how to make the paper better.

I’m thinking out loud we could use your help. If you are interested, e-mail me at editor@fspioneer.com. Or if you know anyone who might be interested, let him or her know to reach out to me. I look forward to hearing from you!

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