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Zach Ahrens: The Vilonia Eagle takes flight

Welcome to the very first issue of the Vilonia Eagle.

We hope that you will support it and help us grow it into something that you are proud to claim as your hometown newspaper. There are a couple of points that I would like to make.

The Eagle celebrates the indomitable spirit of Vilonia. As a recent transplant to the area, I was immediately impressed with the residents. One of my first experiences was attending the annual chamber banquet. That Friday evening in mid-March, I witnessed a group of passionate citizens blessed with strong schools, churches, businesses and families. As one who has lived in several locations throughout the country, I can tell you most assuredly what exists in Vilonia is the exception and not the rule. As I sat listening to the presentations and eating my dessert, I realized the only thing missing in this great town is a newspaper that belongs solely to Vilonia.

It was at the annual chamber banquet that I met Linda Hicks. Our first meeting was brief and a bit awkward as she was cautious of an “outsider” and very protective of a community and people she had grown to love. I knew at that moment that Linda would be the perfect editor of a newspaper that, at the time, only existed in my mind. Over the next few weeks we visited, listened and shared. I discovered that Linda’s passion for seeing a newspaper in Vilonia was matched with insight and wisdom.

On Thursday, April 24, Linda and I met to discuss the details and public launch of the Vilonia Eagle. Our intention was to meet with key leaders in the community during the week of April 27, and to announce the coming of a new weekly newspaper and dynamic website. I write this to say that we saw the community’s greatness before the devastation of April 27. What has taken place in the days following the tornado, in my eye, has only made the community stronger.

The Eagle is in response to a need for hyper-local news, sports, features and advertising made readily available to all people. The Vilonia Eagle, along with viloniaeagle.net, will meet that need as a multi-media product that is for the people and by the people of Vilonia. It is a message board, scrapbook, cheerleader, journal and watchdog. We will strive to earn the respect, trust and support of the community. The truth shall be our guide, the public our good aim.

Over the next several weeks, the Vilonia Eagle will be delivered to approximately 3,000 homes by 6:30 a.m., each Wednesday morning, at no cost to the readers. You will be able to recognize it at a glance due to the red bag. Our hope is that you will choose to subscribe and continue to support this publication by inviting us into your home each week.

As the Eagle grows and matures, there will be changes in the makeup and in the presentation of your hometown newspaper. While we cannot forecast what they will be, I can tell you they will be determined largely by the wishes and suggestions of readers. I can also assure you that as long as I’m at the helm, it will remain the dominant media in the community, the foundation of quality journalism and the city’s institutional memory.

I believe you’ll look up from the pages of the Eagle with an even deeper appreciation for your community, a greater sense of pride and a shared sense of accomplishment that great things are happening here every single day.

Comments

Beth Stauffer's picture

Thank you for working with Linda to bring this to our community. I love having a newspaper that's all about Vilonia! I don't have to weed through a lot of other stuff to find the things I care about. I love my community!

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