Hello, Nueces County. I wanted to take a little time this week to introduce myself and to talk about some ideas we have for your newspaper.

First, let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I've lived in Bishop for 18 years, the past eight of those with my wife, Shelly. Although I live in southern Nueces County, this last week I've felt like I'm connecting with my past.

I graduated from high school just down the road in Annaville, at Arlington Heights Christian School, in 1994. In 1993, I took my driver's education course at a little driving school on Leopard Street, and spent several weeks nervously winding my way through the streets of Annaville and Calallen. Somehow, they don't seem so intimidating now.

In 2002, I received a bachelor of arts degree in history and English from Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and in 2003 I was hired as a reporter for the Alice Echo-News Journal. I've worked at that paper for the past five years, covering everything from city councils, county government, courts and crime to education, economic development and elections. In my spare time, I even managed to work in a few stories about a little dog.

When my Executive Editor, Nicole D. Perez, approached me about taking the managing editor position for the Nueces County Record Star, we had a discussion about what the vision for this paper should be. In that conversation, the word that kept coming up was community.

My experience in Alice has taught me to appreciate the role that a "small-town paper" can fill. We attend the public meetings you can't always attend, follow up with law enforcement on reports of crime and hold elected officials accountable for the promises they make.

Make no mistake, we will continue to do those things.

But we want this paper to be more than just a watchdog for the community, we want it to be a member of the community that reflects the people in it.

That's where you come in.

While I've already met a number of you, I hope more of you will give me a call or come by the office to chat. I want to know what you want to see in this paper, because I want this to be your paper.

I want to know what we're doing right, and what you would like to see us do better. I won't promise that we'll implement all the ideas you bring, but I will promise to listen. This is your opportunity to have your voice heard and to help us be a better partner with you in this community.

Over the next few months I'll use this space to talk about the things I'm learning about and seeing in the community, and I look forward to sharing the ideas we discuss.

Christopher Maher is the Managing Editor for the Nueces County Record Star. Readers may contact him at 387-4511 or via e-mail at christopher.maher@recordstar.com.