Welcome to my new friends

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 14, 2004

Good Morning, Along the River – Kevin Chiri

Hello, my new friends.

I began work at L’Observateur this week as the new Editor and Publisher in town, and quite honestly, through five days at the office, I love it.

For those who may not have seen my official announcement on page 1 today, I began this week heading up our local hometown paper and look forward to a long stay in the River Parish region.

Don’t worry, I’m not a northerner invading the area. Quite the contrary, I’m a south Louisiana boy who has lived here over 30 years in the Slidell area.

I spent 29 years at the Slidell Sentry-News as Managing Editor and Sports Editor, and have a total of 31 years in the newspaper business.

My start as Publisher here in LaPlace has been exciting to say the least, and I’m not saying that to you, my readers, as a way to make quick friends.

When I was considering this new position, I scooped up the wife – well, not literally – and zipped over to LaPlace two weeks ago to give the area a look.

What I liked was that it has a small town feel and atmosphere, but plenty of convenience of a bigger city.

Maybe the quickest way to meet people came on Tuesday when I got a call at about 11:20. It went something like this.

“Hello, Mr. Chiri? I understand you are the new publisher at L’Observateur. Are you coming to the Rotary Club luncheon?” she said.

I told the friendly sounding young lady that I didn’t even know there was a Rotary luncheon today, but upon a second to think, I said I would be there-in 30 minutes!

If the crowd at that gathering was any indication, then everyone in this community must be friendly because I never felt so welcome.

Of course, nobody could be friendlier than “Gigi” Cubias from Lofton Staffing Services, who called me and invited me to the meeting. I’m sure the Rotarians will all testify to that. Then I was welcomed roundly by folks like Stephen East, CFO of River Parishes Hospital, and Lloyd Guillot, owner of Rainbow Chevrolet.

I’m sure many people are wondering what happened to former Publisher Ellen Ishmael. She has headed back to her home state of North Carolina where she will be heading three newspapers.

As for me, I’m the new guy in town who will promise one positive thing I can bring to the community – more tax money! That’s right, with a wife of 29 years, three daughters age 20, 18 and 16, and a son age 8, I assure you the stores in this area will be frequented by my bunch, mainly the girls.

Otherwise, I want to hear from you to know what we can do to make this the best hometown paper you’ve ever had. Call me at 652-9545 to give me your thoughts, I really want to hear from you.

KEVIN CHIRI is editor and publisher of L’Observateur. He may be reached at (985) 652-9545 or email him at kchiri@bellsouth.net