The paper in your hands is new, literally. Skagit Publishing in Mount Vernon is now printing the Weekly News. A local newspaper, we are now printing in Skagit County. The new printer brings improvements: the page is slightly narrower and easier to handle, and whiter newsprint makes photos and graphics more appealing. The paper is now the same size as The New York Times. The bridge in our flag, symbol that it is of this community, stands out in its brighter orange. Front and center is the tagline “Your independent hometown award winning newspaper.” We are rightfully proud of each of those descriptions: This paper is autonomous; without strings attached, or pulled by anyone, locally owned, of consistent good quality and recognized by professional journalists. Call us ornery, local, proud and hardworking. This is the 18th issue under my ownership, the start of my fifth month of managing the Weekly News. My mission has been to produce a good, accurate and honest publication, handled with integrity. Newspapers have a unique role in the communities they serve. Ideally, they shoulder a responsibility to carry the highest ideals and principles from the past into the present, holding out hopes for an enduring future based on the best of who we are. If La Conner won a world championship for best town last year, this paper would be advocating for a repeat. How many can be won in a row? I support greatness, yearly, and the day in and day out efforts along the way. Let’s get the new library built, as a specific for instance. It is the role of a newspaper publisher to be active. The old saw is “to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” That lineage, stretching back to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, stiffens my backbone as I consider the heritage this newspaper is compelled to carry forward. Remember, it was not the nobility nor the merchants but a frail boy, among the least in the village, who said “the emperor has no clothes.” I link, in every breath, newspapers with democracy. Each of us considers our work special and blessed, and that we have a purpose and calling. But the special responsibility and obligation of newspapers comes from their being singled out in the Constitution. In the First Amendment to the Constitution, Congress agreed to make no law restricting freedom of the press. The first amendment protects us all. It protects the right of we the people to speak truth to power. My business, running a newspaper, requires me, obligates me, to urge you to robustly fulfill your roles as citizens. My hope is that this paper will help us all do the heavy lifting of thinking civic-ally and critically about life in our world, mostly around La Conner, but not solely. Thinking critically, by definition, means we will not all be in agreement all the time. All of us have a role in bringing our community into the future. This paper works to keep you abreast of ideas, plans, developments and projects. The paper participates as it is able. I hope to have your company. Can’t I just leave you alone, let you be? No. That is why communities have poets, prophets, ministers and newspapers. And some publishers insist that poetry be a consideration, asking “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” That’s Browning. The word ‘look’ is taught early. That is why we learned to read. It is why we are going to make huge contributions for building a new library building. We never stop needing to know more. Knowledge fuels our participation. Find the news here. We are all in this together. None of us leaves the planet alive. It is best that we stay in communication and stay engaged. I am committed to doing this. I hope you will, too, with each other and the Weekly News, also.