Ohio. The Buckeye State.

Birthplace of Steven Spielberg, John Glenn, Paul Newman, Tim Conway and my old man.

World headquarters of Sherwin-Williams, Nationwide Insurance and Proctor & Gamble.

Location of 46 private colleges, six free-standing medical schools, 15 community colleges, eight technical colleges, and 13 public universities – including The Ohio State University.

Home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Home of the Browns. Home of The Bengals. Home of The Cavaliers. Home of The Guardians. And as of last Tuesday evening, home of yours truly.

In full disclosure, other than a few brief trips to Cleveland and a couple of drives across the state on the way to one place or another, I haven’t spent much time in northeast O-H-I-O, but don’t hold that against me.

In nearly 25 years of working as a professional journalist, I’ve had the good fortune to work in a handful of states and in all but one instance, I moved into the region completely green. Frankly, I think that’s for the best.

That means I don’t already know about all of the terrible things you’ve done to your friends and family. I don’t know your ex-wife. I don’t know your ex-husband. I don’t know about your failed business, nor do I know about that one time you and/or your kids caused that embarrassing scene at that one public event. I haven’t seen you drunk. I haven’t seen you at church.

Beginning this week, everyone gets a clean slate – at least with me. You’ll likely still have to make amends to your neighbors, but I’m a firm believer that everyone deserves a little grace. As far as I’m concerned, everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt and everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves – including me.

Please know that I’m going to make some mistakes along the way. Plenty of them. But I’ll give you my word that I’ll do my best not to make the same mistake twice – and definitely not three times. I’m counting on you – our readers – to help keep us abreast of what’s going on in your neighborhood. If there’s something going on that you think is newsworthy, pick up the phone and call us at 440-247-5335 or send an email to editor@chagrinvalleytimes.com. Or stop by our office at 525 E. Washington St. in Chagrin Falls.

I’m here in the greater Chagrin Valley all by myself so I have plenty of free time to explore the area, meet new people and hear those stories you’ve told a hundred times before. I genuinely want to hear from you.

After all, this newspaper is your newspaper. Our news department is simply the conduit to help get the news from your town, your village, your township, your schools, your business, and your family to the masses. On that end, I encourage you to invite me to your events. Invite me to come speak to your club or organization. Invite me to lunch, but not on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. I may not always be able to fit you into my schedule, but I promise I’ll try. Like any healthy relationship, I’m sure we’ll have some disagreements along the way, but that’s okay.

You may not realize it, but on any given week, more than 20,000 people see our newspaper and that’s a valuable group of readers who live, work and play in this region. To date, I’ve only met about 12 of them and those are primarily the kind folks I work with here at the newspaper. So far, so good.

Other than that, I’ve only officially met one other person – a lovely young woman named Jennie whose smile and encouraging words have thus far made this transition much more enjoyable than I could have imagined. If she’s any indication of how friendly people in Northeast Ohio are, I can’t wait to meet the rest of you.

Mr. Gustafson is the editor of the Chagrin Valley Times, Solon Times, and Geauga Times Courier. He’s the youngest son of the youngest son of the youngest son of Swedish immigrants who settled 100 miles northeast of here near Jamestown, New York.

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