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Independence Day

July 6, 2011

The calendar is full of holidays and “national” days. In fact, about a month ago we here at the paper celebrated “National Donut Day” with a box of two dozens glazed beauties from Dale’s. We are not one to ignore a perfectly good donut in the name of calorie counting.
Over 200 years ago, a group of very brave people got together on this continent and decided that they wanted a better way than what they had. They knew there would be resistance from afar. They might even have to convince those just around the corner to join them. Some, while still holding on to what they knew to be comfortable and familiar, eventually saw the future that others were working hard to purchase. In the end, a new nation was born — and the rest is history.
We look back over all those years and see where we have been. The path is clear, although when charted, is was fraught with uncertainty. The great sacrifice made by our forefathers brought about the freedom we all take for granted today. I often wonder what they would think if they could see us now. I hope they would approve. I hope they would give suggestions for improvement. But most of all, I hope we would listen.
Thus was born Independence Day. While the country was already here, we celebrate July 4 as the day our nation was born. When you think about it, we are still a little pup compared to much older civilizations and countries around the world.
For the past six weeks or so, you have been told that things were going to be different here at your paper. We are striving each day to find new and creative ways to bring news and information from around the county to you. On July 1, we launched a newly re-designed front page.
We have moved our logo higher on the page. We are proud of this logo and it should be the masthead for all that follows.
We have added space along the left side of the front page to consolidate the weather information, index and contact numbers.
We have added an “On this day” block. In this space we will highlight pictures or tidbits from Couriers of the past. This particular day’s nugget was about Rickey Seals of Benton from the front page of the July 1, 1971, paper.
We added a “Facebook Buzz” space just below “On this day.” This section will be where we put your comments from questions we ask on our Facebook page. If you aren’t one of our Facebook friends, log on at send a request.
In the weeks to come, we will continue to refine and update our layout and appearance.
We are adding new columns and articles to the paper from local communities in the county. Very soon, an old friend of the Courier will be returning with a column on technology. Most of you know him, but some may not. We will be welcoming David Hughes back into the fold. Even though he moved out of state long ago, he still keeps tabs on what goes on back here. We are glad to have him on our pages.
Benton Mayor David Mattingly has agreed to write a monthly column about Benton. The mayors of Bauxite and Bryant have verbally expressed a desire to do so as well. Next week, I will be meeting with Jeff Arey of Haskell to join the group. We have already had contact about the matter and he has expressed interest. All the other mayors in the county will be approached as well. We want and hope to have everyone of them on our pages regularly.
The Saline County Library system is on our pages. Both senior adult centers are on our pages. But, we want more. We need contributors from other areas such as the Ralph Bunche Community, Salem, East End, Hot Springs Village and anywhere else in the county that wants their area included.
Watch for notification of our coming to your area for coffee and conversation. We will be announcing locations, dates and times very soon. Reporters and staff from the editorial department will be there to field your questions and to listen to your comments, no matter what they are. We also want story ideas from you.
So, as of this day, The Saline Courier announces our very own Independence Day. We declare a new beginning and new direction. We hope you like it. We want to know if you do. We want to know if you don’t. This is your paper.

The Saline Courier Editor-in-chief Brent Davis is a lifelong resident of Benton and Saline County. The Courier has been part of his life for as long as he can remember. He is a graduate of Benton High School. His Sunday column appears at least twice a week: on Fridays and Sundays on the Opinion Page and on www.bentoncourier.com.

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