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Ian Lamont: Community that makes a difference

Posted: December 31, 2009 4:38 p.m.
Updated: January 3, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
What a difference 60 miles make.

That is the distance between Long Beach and the Santa Clarita Valley.

It is also the distance between a community that faces significant challenges in a number of areas and a community that has its act together and handles its business.

Long Beach has a long list of problems: fiscal issues, traffic, crime, education, law enforcement and health care. Long Beach is also a community whose once-vibrant daily newspaper's future is now very much in doubt.

The Santa Clarita Valley, on the other hand, despite our own challenges, is in far better shape than Long Beach - and just about any other community you could name.

The city of Santa Clarita, despite the recession and the "money-snatching" by the state, is fiscally sound, and our local economy will remain better than most if we continue to "Think SCV" - do our business, hiring, dining and purchasing within the Santa Clarita Valley.

Our traffic, crime, education, law enforcement and health care sectors have their own challenges, but all are in far better shape than those of the communities around us.

Our traffic flows and many crime stats are down, or lower, than those of surrounding areas, and our law enforcement is responsive. (In too many other communities, one files a police report by phone, rather than with an officer.)

In the education sector, we have some of the finest K-12 schools in the state and, with College of the Canyons, the best community college in California.

We also have The Signal, our daily newspaper that was an anomaly when compared to most newspapers in 2009.

The Signal grew this past year and also launched a number of new publications (SCV Business Journal, America's Kids Times, Health & Wellness Magazine) and products, including a number of innovative enhancements to the No. 1 SCV Web site (www.the-signal.com) and the unveiling of the "E" - an online digital replica of The Signal. (For more information on the "E," including a seven-day free trial, visit http://www.thesignaleedition.com/epaper/viewer.aspx.)

But what really makes the SCV better than Long Beach and most other communities is a special trait only the best of communities have. That trait is a "sense of community."

I came to Santa Clarita in September 2008 and within a few short weeks I felt a sense of belonging.

During my first 60 days in the community, I made it a point to meet with prominent residents and community leaders. Everyone I met spoke with great pride about the SCV, each expressing "a sense of community."

They also spoke about The Signal's historical impact on the community and the fact The Signal in recent years had "lost touch" with the community.

But to a person, each valued The Signal and recognized how rare it is these days for a community to have its own daily newspaper; each wanted to see it be successful.

That "sense of community," expressed in words and deeds, is too rare of a commodity in communities these days.

Having been fortunate now to be the publisher of a daily newspaper in four different communities, I have always viewed the position as one of great privilege.

A favorite quote is: "Count the day lost when your newspaper ... has not done something to benefit the community it serves."

Virtually every day, The Signal lives on that quote.

If we do a story of a family in need, you can bet The Signal will have a follow-up story on the generosity and response from the SCV residents. That is a great example of "sense of community."

The Signal assists and works with virtually every SCV nonprofit group and charity.

In all cases, our effort results in additional support, turnout and funding for the organization due to the tremendous SCV "sense of community."

While at the core of the SCV's "sense of community" are compassionate and caring residents, we all need to recognize the other components listed within this column, that are also key contributors to our "sense of community."

It was not that long ago that Long Beach had its own "sense of community." It is not a trait you should take for granted.

Keeping the SCV a great community takes commitment, energy and effort by all of us.

It starts by watching out for one another and supporting all facets that make the SCV great and give us our "sense of community."

As we begin a new year, I want to make a few statements about a subject near and dear to my heart - a community daily newspaper that publishes trusted, independent, valued, informative content, the kind of content that community newspapers like

The Signal bring to your door every day for about 20 cents a day. That's right - just 20 cents.

Take advantage of just one of the many daily coupons that appear in each Signal, never mind the other discounts or sales being advertised, and you've covered the cost of delivery.

What else can you buy that gets delivered to your door and pays for itself? I can't think of anything, either.

For all of you who have been longtime subscribers and supporters of The Signal, thank you.

Our 2010 promise is The Signal will continue to inform, entertain and empower you.

We will also be launching a number of new publications and products in early 2010 that all of our subscribers will get as part of their subscription.

At The Signal, we see the current recession as a time of opportunity, as a time to invest in our future and the future of the SCV.

The current recession has not been easy for any business.

So at The Signal, as a means to assist all of our customers and readers, we will be maintaining both our advertising and circulation rates. The last thing any of our customers needs is a price increase in either advertising or subscription rates.

No matter what 2010 has in store for us, we are fortunate we live in a great area where we are better off because we support one another and have a "sense of community."

Ian Lamont is publisher of The Signal. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the paper's editorial board.

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