I am very enthusiastic to announce two ways in which Walls & Ceilings will become more directly involved with its readers this year. One involves the opportunity for contractors to win awards of recognition from the magazine; the other is an actual two-day business solutions conference scheduled for Nov. 8 and 9, in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The Walls & Ceilings 2004 "Excellence in Design" Awards will be given for the first time this year. Contractors are invited to submit projects for consideration that fit the required criteria (see page 137 for details). Winners will have photos and details about their projects in a future issue of W&C.

We are also excited about hosting our first Business Solutions Conference, to be held at the Hilton Kingston Plantation, in Myrtle Beach (see page 93 for details). Contractors are invited to attend informative seminars, network, meet friends old and new, and get lots of goodies from manufacturer sponsors.

W&C continues to position itself as the Voice of the Industry by hearing the voices of its readers. Readers deserve recognition and they deserve more opportunities to learn, and better their companies. It is our hope that the Awards for Excellence and Business Solutions Conference will help in that mission.

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As I write this column, Memorial Day approaches. It's been a year since my grandfather Elroy "Bill" Arnold, left this world. He was a World War II vet, part of the famous Anzio campaign in Italy and if he hadn't made it through the war, I wouldn't be here. I miss him. He was joking, smoking, telling stories and shoving cold beer at me faster than I could drink it, right up to the end.

There is much criticism in the press regarding the military but I know my grandfather, and likely most other good men and women in uniform, would not or could not treat another with cruelty. These people in harm's way are tomorrow's grandparents. Let us remember them and all who have served, living and gone, every Memorial Day.