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There are reasons for optimism

Included with today’s edition is the final installment of our annual Progress Edition.

In it, you will will find an interesting collection of stories that deal with business, industry and transportation around the region.

There is, for example, an update on the construction of the new bridge across the Ohio River that will connect Wellsburg and Brilliant. Plans call for the bridge to be open in the late fall of 2022. You’ll also find an update on the continued expansion that is turning the Geary Bates Jefferson County Airpark into a true regional airport, as well as a profile of Bully Tools, which is located in the Jefferson County Industrial Park and sells its made-in-America products around the world –and is looking to expand.

While we are certain you will find the stories informative, we also ask that you take a few minutes to reflect on the other stories that have been a part of our annual Pride and Progress Month.

Distributed Feb. 2, 7, 14, 21 and 28, the five sections have carried the theme “A Resilient Reset,” and the stories have offered insights into how area businesses, organizations and attractions are planning for the future as the economy continues to recover from the issues that have been brought on the COVID-19 pandemic.

It hasn’t been easy. Steubenville’s Nutcracker Village, for instance, this past season took on a look that was less centralized, with more of the life-size figures placed along the streets of and in storefronts throughout the downtown. It’s likely some of those changes will stick around in the future.

Outdoor concerts also fell victim to the coronavirus last summer, but organizers in many area communities are confident live music will return at some point this summer.

We also learned that economic developments officials on both sides of the Ohio River are optimistic about the future, with the Jefferson County Port Authority, the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle and officials in communities helping to lead the way.

Franciscan Square, Historic Fort Steuben, Brooke Hills Park and Tomlinson Run State Park are looking ahead to welcoming growing numbers of visitors this year, and Weirton Medical Center, Eastern Gateway Community College and Franciscan University of Steubenville all expected to grow and offer expanded services. Students in the Indian Creek Local School District, meanwhile, are looking forward to being able to attend a new high school and elementary school.

Our hope is that you have found each of the stories shows that, while there will be bumps along the way, there is reason for optimism about the region’s future — for this year and for many more years to come.

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