On my first few days on the job, I walked around Washington and met some of my neighbors. Some were old friends, families I knew from growing up in town. We shared stories about families, and it was surprising how much I already knew.

 If you grew up here, left the area as I did but stayed in touch with your own family here, the stories of your old friends were updated every time you came home for a visit. It’s like you never really left Washington (and Washington never really left you). Other people I met on my walk around were new to Washington and told me new stories. I was impressed by everyone, old and new, who shared a commitment to the area and saw an opportunity to put down roots and build a rich life in our community.

As we talked about their hopes for the future, I began to think of The Missourian and its mission going forward. We are an old institution in this city, publishing our community newspaper continuously since 1937 when my grandfather, James L. Miller Sr., took over ownership of the newspaper. We have always identified our future as adding to and depending on Washington. In the first issue my grandfather edited, the July 9, 1937, edition, he stated on the front page: “It is the hope and ambition of The Missourian to become so valuable in news service, special features and week-end store bargains that no home in Washington and surrounding country can afford to be without it.”

The growth and expansion of the city and the county was a key driver of opportunity for us to grow our newspaper. What is good for Washington and Franklin County is good for us, and we will remain a loud and boisterous supporter of growth — growth that provides new opportunitiesfor existing and emerging businesses, current workers and new people coming to town for a job. This is the great story of small towns and an important part of the story of America. The Missourian is here to tell this great story, to cheer it on, and to celebrate everyone who picks up a shovel, designs a building, heals us when we are sick and teaches our children.

Another equally important mission of The Missourian is to report fairly and frankly on those public issues that detract from our common purpose. A newspaper has a unique platform to take a position on important issues, both national and local. We fully intend to use this platform for good, but in order to accomplish this, we need active engagement with you, the community.

Tell us what you think, write letters to the editor for publication, give us story ideas, engage in discussions with our elected officials. Your involvement in making Washington and Franklin County a better place for everyone reflects the vitality of this county and will help us make The Missourian a better paper.