Phase II of our remodeling project is in full swing at the Daily Light office.

I’m exhausted.

It’s been a challenge going through a major remodeling project while still keeping the office open, providing a place for our team to do their jobs and keep the press running — all at the same time.

I keep telling everyone that the inconvenience is just for a short amount of time — but it will be worth it once the construction crews have finished their work.

I have to admit that everyone has been understanding, even though we’re all sharing cramped working areas and having to navigate through a maze of furniture and boxes. In fact, I was literally barricaded in my office for a few hours Saturday morning while crews replaced the carpet in the front part of the office.

The carpet and trim work should be finished on Sunday with a different crew returning on Monday to begin installation of the work stations on the main floor.

If all goes according to plan, we should be able to start moving to the new work stations on Tuesday.

We’re all excited about the renovations and we can’t wait to see the office once all the work has been finished.

During past two weeks a lot of my time has been focused on the renovation and making sure no one missed a beat while the project was taking place, there have been a lot of other developments going on at the same time.

While the contract should be signed next week, I’m announcing that we’re re-establishing our presence in Midlothian by re-opening an office for the Midlothian Mirror.

The Great Recession that began in 2007 took its toll on businesses and industries throughout the nation. The newspaper industry was no exception. As the recession began to impact Texas, as part of the austerity measures needed to stay in business, a decision was made to close the Mirror office in Midlothian and move all operations to the Daily Light building in Waxahachie.

Beginning in February — and for the first time in more than a half-decade — the Midlothian Mirror will once again be based out of Midlothian and serve as the new home for Melissa Cade, the paper’s managing editor and Deborah Thornton, the Mirror’s lead advertising sales executive.

As soon as the contract is signed I’ll make the official announcement.

While in no way can I compare myself to Gen. Douglas MacArthor, I certainly identify with how he felt when forced to leave the Philippines during World War II, prompting his pledge that, “I shall return.”

That’s exactly how I felt when we made the very difficult decision to close the Midlothian office during very difficult economic times.

Its been a long wait.

But I can finally say to the residents of Midlothian that their newspaper will once again be based in their community.

And we’re just getting started.

New contests

Last week I announced our Texas Trivia Contest, which will continue throughout the year. In each edition of the newspaper, we are publishing a question about Texas. Readers who know the answer are encouraged to enter their answer online through our website. Each correct answer is entered into a drawing that is held at the end of the month with a gas card being presented to two readers.

Today I get to announce that we are also holding a special Valentine’s contest and five lucky readers will receive a dozen roses, delivered by us to any location in Ellis County on Valentine’s Day.

Beginning Sunday, Feb. 2, in each day’s edition the paper will be filled with randomly placed hearts. Readers are encouraged to count the hearts throughout the paper and submit the number of hearts online through our website. Correct answers posted each day will be entered into a drawing and on Thursday, Feb. 1, the names of five lucky readers will be drawn each winning a dozen roses from our co-sponsor, Divine Flowers & More of Waxahachie.

On Friday, Feb. 14, our staff (including me), will pick up the flowers from Divine Flowers & More and deliver them to any address in Ellis County.

We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Divine flowers & More and we’re excited to be able to be part of helping five of our readers provide a nice Valentine’s Day surprise to someone special.

With that said, mark your calendars, brush up on your Texas trivia, look for hearts and get ready to win.

While contests provide us with a fun opportunity to engage our readers and give away prizes, our primary focus has and continues to be providing timely, relevant news, information and advertising that our community depends on.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Managing Editor Aaron Schwaderer, Sports Editor Billy Wessels and the news team on maximizing our resources to provide local news content that its important to our readers.

Without question, it is an ongoing process but it is a commitment we’re all dedicated to achieving.

As I mentioned last week, beginning in February, we’re bringing back the daily comics page, as well as the weekly pages dedicated to local business, school news, entertainment and health — and the weekly police blotter.

Likewise, Andy Lentz, our advertising director and I have been working with the ad team to develop new marketing programs that will help our local businesses grow and prosper.

The Daily Light is a business. Our primary source of revenue is advertising.

In order for us to be successful, Andy and I know that our customers have to be successful and we are committed to focusing on their needs by creating effective marketing plans that achieve their goals.

Likewise for our printing plant as our Production Director Joe Constancio and I work to expand the client base for our print shop.

In addition to printing our products — the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Ellis County Trading Post shopper — we also handle the printing needs for nearly a dozen other newspapers in North Texas. As we move further into 2014, Joe and I will be working to assist even more regional newspapers by handling their print needs in our Waxahachie plant.

In every department we have a great team of dedicated, highly creative professionals who absolutely love what we do. More importantly, we are all very passionate about our Ellis County communities. It’s where we live. It’s where our kids go to school. It’s where we have built our lives. We’re stake holders. We also know that what we do matters.

Speaking on behalf of the entire team, we are all deeply appreciative for the privilege of being a part of your daily routine. It is a responsibility we do not take lightly.

On a daily basis, we work to provide a hometown newspaper and an online multi-media website you can be proud of. We are truly honored to serve.