I am a very lucky guy when it comes to my professional life.
I get to do something I truly love, and I am paid very nicely for it.
My daughter, Chrissy Smith, feels the same way. She is my right hand man—OK, woman—and the two of us are pretty much the complete editorial department here at The Slidell Independent.
I’ve got a fantastic advertising rep in Rebecca Blossman and a super graphic designer in Brittany Livaccari.
There you have it, that’s the staff of The Slidell Independent. We’re exactly like dozens of my small business colleagues out there, fighting the economy as a still, relatively new company that has to keep the staff small and efficient to ensure this newspaper has a long future ahead of it.
And that’s my point today. The Slidell Independent is now in its fourth year, and recently was honored by the Louisiana Press Association with the General Excellence award, meaning we were the best paper in the state in our division. It was the first year we were eligible for those honors and we were pleasantly surprised to win that top honor, along with a host of other first place state awards.
While it is always nice to get some recognition for what you have done—and the annual LPA awards are the newspaper industry’s version of that—I have honestly been blown away by the reaction in our community to what we have accomplished.
One of the reasons I especially like having my daughter on board is because she is my link to stay up with today’s changing technology.
I’m not half bad with my computer, or the Internet, but I wasn’t jumping both feet into the world of Facebook when it came on the scene. But not to worry. Chrissy made sure that I did, and she started The Slidell Independent page on Facebook as well, which has become a very popular spot that she is great about maintaining.
So naturally, the night we won the award at the convention in Marksville, Chrissy marched us straight to our hotel room, took a quick picture and posted it immediately on our Facebook page.
Since then, I have been humbled by the way you, our wonderful Slidell Independent fans, have responded.
Not only have we had well over 100 comments or responses to the award on Facebook, but I continue to get e-mails, constant face-to-face congratulations everywhere I go, and even personal mail so supportive of what we are doing.
My good friends at Resource Bank picked up a congratulations card, passed it around the office to get people to sign it, and mailed it to me. I know my good buddy Sheila Wagner, the branch manager, was probably behind it, but there were people congratulating us that I honestly have never met!
Mike Stedem, owner of the Hyundai dealership in Slidell, mailed me a handwritten congratulations letter. I’ve gotten others as well, not to mention lots of e-mails and Facebook posts. It has been so, so nice of all you folks for what you have done for us.
I believe the great support shows how much people truly want to keep their Slidell paper here, and that means a great deal to all of us. I constantly get asked, even more than three years into this paper, “how are you doing?”
I know that is actually code for “is The Slidell Independent making it financially and will you survive?”
Believe me, I understand it. I’ve told many people that I feel exactly like the small business people I talk to every day. It’s a struggle for them and it’s a struggle for us, but the answer to that question is, yes, we are making it, and yes, we plan to be here a long time.
That is only because of the great support of this community, especially those businesses who choose to run advertising in their hometown Slidell paper. We’ve had plenty of it since bringing The Independent back to town, and with the support we keep getting, I expect us to be here a very long time.
Thanks again to all of you for the great outpouring of love to our Slidell Independent family.
One of our biggest fans, Adele Smith—wife of Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith—has always been active with anything that is about helping children.
Not only has she been a volunteer for many years with CASA, the Children’s Advocacy organization that helps kids who have to testify in court cases, but she is also an active member with the Children’s Wish Endowment organization in Slidell.
Adele told me she is hoping for a big turnout and support for a golf tournament set for Friday, June 8, at Oak Harbor Golf Club, that will be a fundraiser for the Chiildren’s Wish Endowment.
Golfers for the 18-hole scramble can enter in teams of four, with a cost of $100 per golfer or $400 for a four-man team. All money raised goes directly to the Children’s Wish Endowment.
Sponsorships are also being sought: Title sponsorship is $3,500; Dream Maker sponsor is $2,500; Hero for Hope sponsor is $600; Shooting Star Hole sponsorship is $150 a hole; and business spotlight is $50.
Please take part in this worthy cause with a sponsorship donation or by signing up to play. To do either, call Angelic DeGruy Morley at 504-975-0920.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.