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Looking forward to a new year

By the time you have settled in to start reading this, the new year will have arrived.

Like every year, 2021 will bring with it a sense of hope, a feeling that the future ahead of us is at least a little brighter than the past that is behind us.

That’s especially true after 2020, a year that brought us COVID-19 and its accompanying restrictions and regulations that kept us pretty much inside and isolated from friends and family for much of the year.

Thankfully, the much-anticipated vaccines have arrived and, if all goes according to numerous plans, by the end of summer — or perhaps earlier — we should see most of those restrictions lifted, which means we will be able to return to lives that include gathering with friends and family, enjoying more meals in restaurants and attending numerous community events, from concerts to dinners to worship services, that bring us together.

Keep that in mind as you look at the year ahead. We’re sure 2021 will offer a chance to businesses to expand on both sides of the Ohio River. We’ll see growth in retail at complexes at Hollywood City Center in Steubenville and along Three Springs Drive in Weirton, for example, as well as other parts of the Tri-State Area.

Work is continuing on the new bridge that will connect Brilliant and Wellsburg, a structure that will provide another much-needed Ohio River crossing. When completed, the bridge will open new business opportunities and help build economic activity in southern Jefferson County on the Ohio side and southern Brooke County in West Virginia.

We certainly expect to see expansion at the Jefferson County Industrial Park and at the old property where the Weirton Steel Corp. once dominated the city’s skyline. Much of that growth will accelerate because the executive director spots at the Jefferson County Port Authority and Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle have finally been filled — by Robert Naylor and Marvin Six, respectively.

Politics in the region will have a different feel. Tony Morelli, for instance, will replace Tom Gentile on the Jefferson County commissioners, political newcomer Andrew Plesich will be the new clerk of courts and Ron Ferguson will be our region’s new state representative.

We’ve also seen change in Hancock and Brooke counties. Eron Chek will become the first woman to hold a seat with the Hancock County commissioners. Steve Dragisich will become the Hancock County prosecutor while Scott Gittings will be the new sheriff.

There also will be a new sheriff in Brooke County, with Richard Beatty stepping into that position.

We will be the first to tell you that our crystal ball has been, well, a little dysfunctional in the past, which means we will not be making any firm predictions about what 2021 will bring us. That said, we can safely say there will be twists and turns along the way that residents of the Tri-State Area will be talking about for years to come.

Everything points to 2021 as being an interesting year.

We hope it’s a good one for all of us.

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