By the time you read this column, we’ll be settling into our new offices. This move required a change of both address and telephone numbers, so I want to provide you with these changes to help expedite getting in touch with us.

Our new address is Advocate Community Newspapers, First Interstate Bank Building, 6301 Gaston Avenue, Suite 820, Dallas 75214. Our new telephone number is 823-5885, and our new FAX number is 823-8866.

To help improve our office efficiency (which some readers have rightly complained about in the past), we’ll also be using a new auto-attendant voice mail system that is intended to help speed along your call to the appropriate party. Now, I know that some of you probably don’t like voice mail, so our system gives you an important option at any point during the message: Just press “0” to speak with a real, live person (during normal business hours) if you feel you’re receiving the run-around from our mechanical system.

Also, if you are interested in advertising and sales information, the following directory may help speed your call:

East Dallas/Lakewood area: Lisa Fox, ext. 200.

Lake Highlands area: Ellen Hutter, ext. 201.

Greenville/Park Cities area: Karen Cordato, ext. 202.

Regional/Agency Accounts: Lisa Smith, ext. 203.

Classified Advertising: Brenda Biggerstaff, ext. 204.

Automotive Advertising: Carol Cook, ext. 205.

If you have questions about news and photographs published in the Advocate, or if you have story ideas for us, please call:

Lake Highlands information: Robert Johnson, ext. 210.

East Dallas/Lakewood information: Stacy Ann Thomas, ext. 211.

And if you’d like to speak with me regarding any topic, please dial ext. 212.

In the future, we’ll be using this voice-mail system to add newspaper features such as a Reader Response line for those of you who have time to call us with your opinions but don’t have time to write a letter; a hotline for delivery problems that will help us respond to those issues more quickly; and eventually, a Fax-Back service that will allow you to request additional information about our advertisers that will be delivered immediately and at no cost to your fax machine.

Knowing how things usually go during and immediately after a move. I’m anticipating a few problems as we work the kinks out of our system during the next few weeks.

But somewhere beneath the boxes and behind the voice mail, we’ll still be eager to talk with you about our neighborhood. And we aren’t going to be offended at all if you call us up just to make sure we received your school’s press release or the pictures of your daughter’s wedding.

That’s what we’re here for.

Need Some Office Space?

As part of our office move, we plan to sub-lease approximately 500 square feet adjoining our space that would be perfect for a two- or three-person office. This office suite includes shared use of a reception area and conference room with us, and window offices with a view of the Lakewood Shopping Center.

The space includes a separate entrance, building security, all utility bills paid, and covered parking. If you’re considering a move, or know someone who is, please give me a call at 823-5885 to take a look at the space.

Even More Changes

We are fortunate, as a small newspaper, that we have relatively little turnover among our employees. But the law of averages catches up with everyone, I guess, and Advocate Community Newspapers is no exception.

Our editor for the past two years, Becky Bull, is heading east to seek fame and fortune in North Carolina, and this October edition is her last with us. As a newspaper, we have (in my humble opinion) grown and improved significantly under Becky’s stewardship, and I am truly sorry to lose her.

But she’s a native Texan, so who knows: She may be back in Dallas again someday.

Assuming many of Becky’s duties will be Stacy Ann Thomas and Robert Johnson, two talented journalists who will help continue to improve our neighborhood news coverage.

Stacy will be responsible for the news and information published in our East Dallas/Lakewood Advocate; she also will continue to write our popular Education Roundup features each month. Robert will concentrate on the news and events in Lake Highlands, as well as much of the photography in our pages.

Give them a call with your story ideas and comments about our newspaper. Just remember: They are still learning neighborhood street and school names, and you can help them by making sure that the neighborhood link is clear when you call.

One other recent addition to our staff is Niki Gulley, a recent SMU graduate and Illinois native who has taken over as our Art Director. She’s only been with us a few months, but you’ve probably noticed a few improvements in our appearance since she started.

The most notable is this month’s cover, which features a new masthead (newspaper terminology for the name of our paper on the cover) and what we believe is a cleaner, friendlier overall design.

Someone asked me this past month, in the wake of several other changes during the past few months and our recent selection as Texas’ Best Community Newspaper by the Texas Community Newspaper Association, why we are tinkering with our newspaper – the old, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” idea.

Well, the Dallas marketplace is very competitive when it comes to advertising dollars and readership attention, so the Advocate can’t afford to stand still for too long, even when things seem to be going our way.

After all, newspapers – particularly small community newspapers – aren’t exactly on the cutting edge of technology, what with all of the attention being given to the Internet and various other technological marvels.

But we like to think that the news and information you find in our pages can’t be found anyplace else, so we’re offering a truly unique product that people need and appreciate.

And it’s our job to ensure that in all of the excitement about world-wide communicating, you and our advertisers don’t forget that what’s going on next door and around the corner probably impacts our lives more significantly today than the hottest Home Page in London.

But who knows about tomorrow?