Hello, Southeast Colorado Springs! We couldn’t be happier to meet you.

I am honored to serve as the founding editor and general manager of the publication you are currently holding in your hands. I am also its receptionist, ombudsmen, primary coffee drinker . . . heck, I’ll even scrub the floors if that’s what it takes to get the paper to you.

Veteran local newsman John Weiss is launching the Southeast Express because he saw a real need for a quality community newspaper to provide accurate, timely news to this diverse, vibrant and economically changing community of more than 80,000.

In September, I left a long-term job as an editor at the Pueblo Chieftain to take this truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s something that isn’t being done in the industry all that often. It’s a new newspaper that is about you, for you and often written by you.

Friends, welcome aboard the Southeast Express. We are thrilled to make your acquaintance.

Here’s the back story: A few years ago, John met with State Reps. Tony Exum and (now Sen-elect) Pete Lee to hear more about their multi-million dollar Transforming Safety initiative. He heard that Southeast Colorado Springs doesn’t always get its due when it comes to fresh food, parks, medical care, schools, roads, transportation and/or redevelopment projects. What he (accurately) suspected is it also didn’t have a reliable source of the news and information that can lead citizens to engage in the area and make their own informed choices.

You see, Southeast is what we in the industry call a “news desert.” That means it is “a community … with limited access to the sort of credible and comprehensive news and information that feeds democracy at the grassroots level,” according to the University of North Carolina’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media.

To be clear, Southeast does get some news coverage. But almost all of it is superficial quick features about crime, poverty, drugs and/or gang activity.

But we know there’s a lot more to Southeast than that. Enter the idea for a new, nonprofit newspaper dedicated to taking a hard look at community issues, as well as celebrating and connecting this fantastic area that so many interesting and diverse people call home.

There’s the unbelievable musical and artistic talent here. There’s a slew of fabulous programs committed to kids — be those offerings academic, athletic or altruistic. There’s a growing interest in entrepreneurship and a wide-range of programs dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground. There are fabulous schools providing genuinely extraordinary educational opportunities.

But as Exum told us, the Express shouldn’t just be “all wine and roses.” We’ll also take a hard look at the social issues facing the community — topics such as high drop-out rates, crime, transportation problems, the lack of civic engagement as evidenced by low voter turnout in prior local elections and the need for more community development and renewal. But we will do so with an eye toward solutions.

The thing is, there’s an energy to Southeast that you can feel. It’s the thrum of a community on the verge of reinventing itself; of a community that wants to take control of its own destiny and rewrite its narrative.

So that’s why we’re here. We will be your communications conduit, your partners, your hub. We aim to be your one-stop destination for all the news, business, entrepreneurship, education, entertainment, culture, sports, faith, food and community-engagement information you could possibly need.

We want to tell the amazing stories of the awesome talents here, to celebrate the melting pot that is this fabulous community and to work alongside you to help you dig deep and discover your voice.

We’ll help connect customers and businesses, volunteers and nonprofits, employers and career candidates.

And we will be bringing it your way, free, via the postal service. The paper will be hitting 30,000 mailboxes every-other-month starting in February. But as soon as we can we will publish monthly and then, hopefully, weekly.

We will also be developing our digital presence. Starting right now, you can follow us right now on both Twitter and Facebook, and our website is up and running.

Southeast Springs is an amazing community, and we are excited to be a part of it.