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Finding a new generation of leaders

Our communities are always on the lookout for new leaders, and we are definitely in need as we continue our march into a new future for the region.

We have been turning the page in our area in recent years, and it doesn’t always help to keep going back to the same ideas which have been used for decades. The generation of great leadership we have had is stepping out of the spotlight, and there needs to be new faces to take those places and provide guidance.

The Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce is in the process of recruiting participants for the 2019-2020 class of what is now known as Leadership Ohio Valley.

So, as a matter of full transparency, I am the vice chair of the chamber’s board of directors and the chairman of its Education Committee which helps to organize the Leadership program.

Previously known as Leadership Weirton, Leadership Ohio Valley is geared toward providing area businessmen and women an opportunity to learn more about our area, to become familiar with the businesses, civic organizations and more and to see first-hand some of the ways available for our residents to give back to their communities. This will be its 28th year.

There is, of course, a time commitment to the program, including organizing and attending a series of monthly sessions focusing on government; business and economic development; education; history and culture; and healthcare.

In addition, they are asked to provide individual volunteer time in their communities, attend local government and civic meetings, and organize and implement a group service project, which can be as big or as little as they want, as long as it shows a contribution to the area.

Leadership Ohio Valley is a program available to any business in our area, whether you are located in Weirton, Hancock County, Brooke County, Jefferson County, Washington County of farther. You don’t even have to be a member of the Weirton Chamber to participate.

It provides you with opportunities and tools to learn and to give back.

I am a graduate of the program, having been a part of the 2007-2008 class. During my time, I learned more about area businesses, local history, visiting places I had never known existed and made some lifelong friendships.

In the years since, I’ve had opportunities to watch future classes bond and grow together, some even taking on new roles in their towns. Graduates have stepped into positions of leadership in our local business community, in our schools and even in government.

They take what they have learned and, hopefully, are able to turn it into opportunity for others, providing new ideas and new guidance for our area.

Leadership Ohio Valley is scheduled to begin its program year the weekend of Nov. 8 and 9. There will be some ice-breaker activities and a welcome dinner that Friday, and then Saturday will feature an all-day special session which will present some challenges and also a chance to work together as a team.

From there, the program is in the hands of the class. They are given guidance from coordinators, but the direction is up to those taking part. They select their activities, they make sure they happen.

For those who have previously taken part in Leadership Ohio Valley (or Leadership Weirton), if you know of anyone who would benefit from the program, please consider recommending them in the coming weeks. For anyone else who might be interested, I encourage you to contact the Weirton Chamber to learn more.

We continue to step toward what, hopefully, will be a vibrant future for the Ohio Valley. That future will need new faces to take charge and bring in new ideas as we move forward.

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

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