Dear Mandarin NewsLine readers,

I want to personally thank each of you for making us your community newspaper.

The years since we began publishing have straddled some of the most tumultuous events of our lifetimes, from 9/11 through two wars and the Great Recession and we’ve survived by staying focused on news and events that happened here in Mandarin.

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We’ve watched a handful of competitors come and go and we’re still here. I’m certain the reason Mandarin NewsLine has survived while other papers have withered and died is that we’re not just about this community, we’re a part of it.

Every morning we start the work day at our offices on San Jose. We drive the same roads, eat at the same restaurants, have kids who attend Mandarin schools and we worship in the same places. Your concerns are our concerns. Your triumphs are our triumphs. And without your loyalty and support we would not be here today.

Unless you just moved here, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve made some changes. Beginning with the nameplate at the top of page one, we’ve given Mandarin NewsLine the ink and paper equivalent of an oil change and a fresh coat of paint. We’ve also rethought what it means to be your community newspaper.

We are changing the dates on the top of the paper. Mandarin NewsLine will continue to be a monthly newspaper, but we are realigning our distribution dates to help ensure the news you receive is timelier.

Over the years our publication date drifted to the point that sometimes you received your newspaper after the beginning of the month and occasionally “happenings” had already happened by the time you read about them.

We thought the New Year was a good time to set things right. This issue we’re calling January-February, but you will receive your March issue before March 1, and every issue that follows before the first of the month.

We’ve also placed a new emphasis on the quality of our reporting and storytelling.

When the Circulation Verification Council surveyed Mandarin residents it reported that more than 99 percent of you receive Mandarin NewsLine, more than 77 percent of households regularly read Mandarin NewsLine and 75 percent regularly buy products or services from ads in Mandarin NewsLine.

Those are readership numbers most publications only dream of. To better serve our readers — and our advertisers — we’ve increased the separation between our advertising and editorial departments and recruited a stable of talented writers and photographers to help us better cover the news, craft better features and show you the faces, places and events in Mandarin.

Among the other changes you can see are a clean new look that makes Mandarin NewsLine easier on the eyes and easier for you to integrate into your busy lives. Our new four-column layout opens up the page and makes it easier to read. The front page now offers multiple points of entry to help you quickly find the stories you care about, as does the index on page two. We’ve recently added a crossword and other puzzles and have reintroduced classified ads, which we will soon expand.

You’ll still find the “refrigerator magnet” stories and photos that are our bread and butter. Schools, local sports, community organizations and charity events will be featured in every issue, and now we’ve added an event calendar you can save to keep you up to date on local happenings throughout the month.

The nameplate at the top of the page sports a fresh new logo and now includes a nod to the family of community newspapers that Mandarin NewsLine has helped spawn. Florida NewsLine is comprised of six hyper-local publications that combined reach more First Coast readers than any single newspaper (yes, including that one).

Not everything is new. Our news font is based on a design that was old when Shakespeare published his first play. Davey Wiggins is still lost somewhere in each issue. Advertising Executive Heather Seay is still here and Editor Martie Thompson has been here since the first issue. Both have played integral roles in our redesign and will continue to help steer us toward the future.

I can’t close without mentioning MandarinNewsLine.com, which has been completely redesigned as a mobile-friendly responsive website regularly updated with new content, including stories and features that you won’t find in the print edition. You’ll also find a .pdf of the latest issue in case you want to direct out-of-town loved ones to a picture or story they might want to hang on their refrigerator.

To stay even more up-to-date, you can receive updates in your inbox. Join our mailing list by texting NEWSLINE to 22828 and you’ll receive a response requesting your email address.

Thank you for being a loyal reader of Mandarin NewsLine. We will strive to continue to earn the right to be your source for news and events happening in and affecting the Mandarin community.

Warmest regards,

Mark Pettus, Publisher

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