Merced is in my DNA.
My parents were both born and raised in Merced. My father played football for Merced High School, my mother studied at Our Lady of Mercy before heading off to Fresno State and the Peace Corps.
It is rather cliché, but I do believe in the philosophy that in order to know where you are going, it is important to know from where you came.
And as it relates to the Merced Sun-Star, I think you deserve to know a bit about me -- and my plans for your newspaper.
Merced is wrapped around some of my most cherished memories. Over the years, my brother and I spent countless weeks in Merced, creating the kinds of memories that time can't fade.
We would typically spend a week each summer -- and nearly every holiday -- at each of our grandparents' Merced area homes. One was in the city, the other in the country; both were unique and special experiences, the kind that shape a lifetime.
My father's parents. Gene and Lola Johnston, were our "city grandparents."
In their home on West 22nd Street near the library they raised three children and served as the home base for the entire family. I looked forward to skateboarding at the library, going to McDonald's for lunch -- which we hardly ever got at home -- and the soothing pace of the Regulator wall clock in the living room.
And, as their house was on the flight path of Castle Air Force Base, our summer soundtrack included the roar of B-52s rumbling across the sky doing touch-and-go drills.
At the home of our "country grandparents," Paul and Bernice Buessing, the experience was entirely different.
Staying on their dairy farm on East Olive Avenue, we were often up early, awakened by the cows nibbling on the hedges outside of our bedroom window.
We swam in the irrigation canals, raced up and down the lane in a homemade go-cart and left hundreds of perforated aluminum cans in our wake, a result of perfecting our BB gun techniques.
How my parents met is very much an "American Graffiti" story.
My mother was a car-hop at Vernon's Drive In on 16th Street, and my father was cruising the drag with friends on a summer evening. Theirs is the kind of life that an upbringing in a town like Merced -- with strong values, good neighbors and pride in the community -- can produce.
I am proud to think that I have even the smallest amount of those traits.
As the publisher of the Merced Sun-Star, I want to help preserve those characteristics that make Merced special. I and my entire staff are committed to providing you with information that will better help you live your life.
Our talented staff of reporters will ask questions on your behalf -- questions that you deserve answers to, questions that oftentimes no one else will ask.
Our creative team of salespeople will make sure that local businesses communicate their goods and services to you in the best and most effective way possible. For local businesses, I commit that we will treat you with respect, appreciation and the highest level of customer service.
Whenever I visited my grandparents, there was always a copy of the Sun-Star in the house. Reading the comics on Saturday that I wouldn't see until Sunday at home, I always thought I was lucky enough to "see into the future."
As publisher of the Sun-Star, I intend to give you each a chance to see into the future of Merced through the pages of our newspaper and website.
Eric Johnston is the new publisher of the Sun-Star.