Just a few thoughts
The warmer temperatures we experienced Thursday and Friday certainly offered an appreciated break from this cold and snow we've been experiencing and offered a little reminder that, according to the calendar, anyway, the end of winter is a little less than a month away.
And, while spring will certainly be a little more welcome than it has been in the last few years when it finally rolls around on March 21, the coming of a new season offers yet another reminder of the changing dangers we face on the road. Ice and snow certainly make it difficult to get around, but as the temperatures begin to warm up, we're faced with new challenges, not the least of which are potholes.
They are already opening up on many major area roads, and they're sure to keep area maintenance crews busy well into late spring. One of the most challenging roads will be Lovers Lane in Steubenville, sections of which seem to have crumbled completely away.
Maintaining roads and infrastructure in our area is admittedly difficult. The freeze and thaw cycles that are part of our region's climate cause problems with pavement and utility lines, above and below ground. Municipal crews annually do a good job of trying to patch and stay ahead of the worst of the damage.
That's why projects like the planned improvements along Lovers Lane are so important.
What started as a narrow country road has evolved into one of Steubenville's major arteries, for better or worse. It serves thousands of area residents every day, and carries a great deal of traffic to and from the Fort Steuben Mall.
We've heard the arguments time and again that those improvements should have been made decades ago, and, yes, those arguments are right.
But the reality is the work wasn't done then, for whatever reason. That said, the city is moving ahead now with plans to make the road safer and more capable of handling the demands of today's residents.
The city, it should be noted, has set aside $100,000 in this year's budget for enhanced maintenance on the stretch of Lovers Lane that runs from Sunset Boulevard and Mall Drive, and that should be a big help in the interim.
When the work is finally complete, it will be easier to navigate around Steubenville's West End - and could mean fewer potholes each spring.
For the second year in a row, area residents will have extra reason to watch the Academy Awards presentation on March 2.
One of the nominees for best picture this year is the film "Captain Phillips," which is the dramatization of how Capt. Richard Phillips survived after his ship was hijacked and he was kidnapped by Somali pirates. In the film, Tom Hanks portrays Phillips, who is scheduled to speak in Steubenville on April 3 as part of the Herald-Star-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Speaker Series.
When Phillips speaks at 7:30 p.m. that day in the Steubenville High School auditorium, residents from around the Tri-State Area will have the chance to hear the Merchant Mariner describe what he actually experienced during his ordeal.
Hanks was shut out in this year's best actor nominations (he also missed out for his portrayal of Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks), but Barkhad Abdi, who portrayed one of the pirates in "Captain Phillips," was nominated for best supporting actor.
The 28-year-old, who made his screen debut in the film, is facing some formidable competition, but it bears noting that he captured the best supporting actor prize at last Sunday's British Academy Film Awards, which those who follow the entertainment industry acknowledge are a good indicator of how the Oscars will go.
Last spring's speaker in the local series, Tony Mendez, saw his work dramatized in the film "Argo," which walked away with best picture honors. It's anyone's guess as to what films and which actors will win Academy Awards this year, but area residents will certainly have an added reason to watch.
(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)