We’d like to take this opportunity to once again welcome the widely-respected Bob Sanders to our family of columnists here at the Opelika Observer.

We think he fits in far better with our local columnists than he ever did getting edited to death by the daily paper … the ‘(O)nly (A)uburn News,’ to quote a prominent Opelika citizen.

We don’t want to beat a dead horse, but we do feel the need to once again lay out the case as to what a local paper is and what you can do to help it.

On the front page of each and every Observer, you find photos and stories about local people written by local people.

Inside each issue of the Observer, you’ll find excellent local content – whether written by us and our excellent writing staff or articles and photos submitted by you, our loyal readers and public.

(You may wish to quibble that syndicated columnist Hardy Jackson is hardly local, but we maintain his subject matter and love of small-town Southern life indisputably makes him one of us.)

We respect the role that readers play in making a thriving, functioning community newspaper.

Folks, don’t be fooled by gimmicks, slogans or big shiny ads that make claims about being “local” or being here “for the community.”

The proof of the pudding, as it is said, is in the making.

We’ve got an excellent, homegrown product filled with local ingredients, made with love.

But, we can’t do it alone.

Repeatedly in this space, we’ve asked you to tell your friends and neighbors about this paper, to spread the word and let folks know about this locally-made product.

Now, we ask you to tell the places you shop at that you’d like to see them do business with us, too.

Tell them you hope to see their store’s ad in our paper, or tell them they might not be seeing your business from then on.

And, if they already advertise with us, thank them for supporting a local business and be sure to tell your friends to shop there, too.

Only by supporting truly local businesses do we strengthen and grow our community.

Local people taking care of and helping local people – that’s the sort of values we stand for now, and those are the sort of values us small town folk should work to instill.