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As we turn the page into a new year, it’s not a bad idea to take time for reflection and consideration of where we have been as we look ahead to where we are going

I won’t be making or sharing any resolutions this year. First, because I’ve never been a fan, and second, because I think at this point we’re all just hoping for things to be better than they have been the last two years.

It is good, though, to take a glance back, to consider how things were at this time one year ago and see where we have come since then.

We’ve seen growth in the local business community, with the opening or expansion of several small businesses. I always appreciate when these locally owned businesses open their doors, because it shows our own residents have the confidence in our communities to make a significant investment in the area’s future.

In the last year, there have been new restaurants, medical care providers, neighborhood convenience stores, florists, clothing boutiques, and more welcomed into our cities and towns. These businesses are owned and operated by your friends, family and neighbors. We can support them by shopping locally, and as they grow, it could encourage others to follow suit and make their own investments.

Work also continues on several larger development projects, which could see industrial operations and other companies come to the area. The Business Development Corp., the Frontier Group of Companies, our various municipal and county development officials and more continue to rebuild and prepare for the region’s future. Work by the Port of West Virginia, in Follansbee, also moves ahead in their efforts to establish a river-front port operation in the Ohio Valley, which would bring cargo into our area and possibly open new business corridors into the Midwest.

There have been some controversies, of course. As you’re probably aware, my primary news beat is focused on the City of Weirton. From the disputes between city council and the former city manager, to proposals for a new public safety facility, a proposal to establish a natural gas drilling operation in the city limits, and more, there has been plenty of news to cover.

There also has been sadness, as the community said goodbye in February to Weirton Fire Lt. Brian Ritchie, who died following a battle with COVID. Firefighters from across the Tri-State Area were here for the funeral services held at the Millsop Community Center.

On the brighter side, a visit to the community by the Ecuminical Patriarch Bartholomew I was a major highlight for me. As the head of one of the world’s major religious faiths, it still astounds me to think he was here in Weirton, let alone being able to sit within a few feet of him during a meal, to hear him speak and to see the effect his presence had on so many of our residents.

We also saw the return of some of our local community favorite events, in one form or another. Our county fairs, the Wellsburg Applefest, Follansbee Community Days, New Cumberland River Festival and more saw residents gather together for celebrations, along with parades and other festivities. Not all of our favorite events are completely back, and it still may take some time, but it was good to see something “normal” from before the pandemic.

We still face many challenges, and uncertainty, in the coming months. There will be triumphs and losses, happy and sad moments, and, hopefully, some time to relax, reflect and let go of some of our burdens. If there’s anything we’ve all learned from the last couple of years, it’s to try and find those bright spots and to appreciate what we have while it’s here.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)