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Chamber looking for new leaders

September 30, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

In order for any community to move forward, an influx of new ideas, new participants and new energy is needed.

New programs, new opportunities, new businesses and new leadership must be cycled into the mix or everything will get stale and eventually, die away.

We often hear of this idea every few years when election time comes around. There is a crop of newbie politicians who decide to step up and run for office with a promise of fresh blood to get rid of the same old thing. A few even manage to get elected.

But, there also are programs available in our area which work to encourage similar involvement into our local towns and cities.

It's a program offered every year by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce called Leadership Weirton.

I happen to be on the board and education committee for the chamber, and I'm also a graduate of Leadership Weirton. While my current position with the newspaper has provided me with various opportunities to reach out into our area, I don't know if I would have taken some of those steps without having gone through the program and making the contacts I have.

The chamber currently is looking for people interested in taking part in the next class of Leadership Weirton, and I hope our local businesses will consider sending someone.

Leadership Weirton has been around for several years and has had everyone from local government officials and employees, to small business owners to representatives of some of our largest employers taking part.

It's goal is to teach people more about the area, with a focus on its government, education, health systems, history and other areas, while connecting participants with others from our local business community and encouraging them to find ways to get more involved in local civic life.

It also asks participants to spend at least six hours volunteering with a local organization and complete a team service project. In other words, you are giving back to the community before you even complete the program.

Through my experiences, I learned more about the work of Homer Laughlin, for example. I also helped to put together a scavenger hunt of local historic locations, many of which I had never even heard of. Keep in mind, I've lived in this area my entire life.

I met many good people and many friends as part of my experience, and, as a result became more involved in the chamber and a few other groups.

I even decided to become a coordinator for the class following mine, helping to guide another group as they set off toward their new places in the community.

There are others who have joined Rotary or Kiwanis, got involved in starting up a business, or even ran for public office.

Others have taken those lessons back to their own workplace and used them to make improvements there.

Then, there are those who have left the area and used their experiences in their new homes.

Leadership Weirton has seen hundreds of people take part since its inception in the 1990s, and I'm sure there will be hundreds more in the years ahead.

As I've said, the chamber currently is putting together the 2013 class and is looking for interested participants.

Leadership Weirton will begin in January with its kickoff weekend, during which the class will meet and learn about each other through a few special exercises.

From there, they will dedicate one day each month for a session geared toward one of several areas of interest.

If they are able to complete all the requirements, they then can take part in the graduation in June, and will be asked to spend the following year volunteering on a chamber committee.

So, if you run a business and have someone you think will benefit from the program, or perhaps you might be interested in going through it yourself, get in touch with the good people at the Weirton chamber and find out more about this worthwhile program.

You never know where it could lead you in the future.

We have faced many difficulties in the Ohio Valley over the years, and there have been several people who have been willing to step up to try and find a solution. Some have worked while others have failed.

But there are many still who might have the right idea but are standing in the background.

Maybe one of those people, with the right encouragement, could have the plan to lead us into a better future for our entire region. Just think about it.

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

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