The Mena Star is set to make its return to its familiar home on Mena Street, and with the completion of the remodel of the facility, that date will be Monday, March 22. After being displaced to the old Ouachita Trading Post building after the April tornado, The Mena Star will conclude its 11-month relocation this Friday, and resume office operations at the beginning of next week “back home”.
While Monday will mark the return to Mena Street, the following week will be the return of local printing as The Mena Star facility will be making the debut of its recently restored, upgraded press equipment.
“We’re excited about returning to Main Street, and our new facility will offer a soft, relaxing atmosphere for our customers,” Joe Ben Oller, Mena Newspapers Inc Publisher/Editor, said. “The new design will offer a better flow for all the customer service needs of everyone who comes in the doors.”
After receiving heavy damage from the April tornado, The Mena Star building was in need of being replaced, and the task was placed in the hands of MSBI, who took on the project from the initial demolition to the completion. According to Bryan Hebert, MSBI estimator for Mena Star project, the new building is 9,740 square feet and features the original brickwork of the front wall, and the crew was able to utilize the existing structure to crate the all-new facility that is wrapping up work this week.
The project, which began on November 16, originally fell three weeks behind schedule due to availability of building structures, but key decisions allowed the team to regain time and complete the project right on schedule. Hebert recalled a day of pouring concrete while snow was falling and keeping it warm with heaters. That decision kept the construction from falling several weeks behind, and ultimately allowed them to finish by the projected March 20 plan.
According to Oller, the press will be in full production the week of March 29, and the first copy of The Mena Star off the new press will be part of a giveaway. Tickets may be purchased for $1 each, and all proceeds will go toward the Humane Society of the Ouachitas. The paper will be drawn for on Thursday, April 1. Tickets will go on sale Thursday, March 18.
The plate of the first Mena Star will be part of a silent auction that will also began collecting bids on Thursday, March 18.
“We anxious for the public to come see our new facility,” Oller said. “A formal open house will be announced at a later date, but everyone welcome to some see our new office beginning next week. MSBI went above and beyond on this facility.”
With the return of The Mena Star to Main Street, a piece of history was reestablished in relation to the historic newspaper. Following the tornado, it was determined that the condition of the classic “The Star” sign that hung at the corner of Main Street and Port Arthur was not fit to be restored or rehung. In its place, Sign FX has created an exact replica of the sign that was hung up last Thursday. The new sign, being of the exact size and featuring the same lettering will also be illuminated each evening as darkness sets in.
March 18th, 2010 issue of the Mena Star.
Also this week, The Mena Star resumed local press operations, marking the first time a publication had been printed on site since the week of last year’s tornado.