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There is much growth in the Ohio Valley

Despite the naysayers, there is much to be celebrated in our Ohio Valley.

There has been growth, even if it doesn’t seem that way to most of the people looking around. Hopefully, in recent weeks you have been picking up our newspaper. Through that, you will get a taste of exactly what has been going on in the last few years.

Our annual Progress edition has been included in the Sunday editions appearing in your paper boxes and newsstands this month. Each publication takes a look at a variety of areas of development in our region, from energy and the economy, to community and retail, and this week tourism and lifestyles.

Those will be followed by healthcare and education, and an overall look at area businesses.

One of the major ongoing projects, of course, is the Royal Dutch Shell cracker plant currently under construction in Monaca, Pa. It is a relatively short drive between here and Monaca, and, while it might not be as apparent, this development will have an impact on our region. This plant, once completed, will create jobs in the natural gas and plastics industries, which is expected to draw additional opportunities. Offshoot businesses will be attracted to the region.

Couple this with the efforts to construct a second cracker just a short drive south of here in Dilles Bottom, Ohio, and we have the potential to see a lot of growth.

Healthcare also is on the rise, with a physical expansion project at Trinity Health System, and new services recently announced at Weirton Medical Center. Both hospitals are working to find better ways to serve our residents.

Three Springs Drive in Weirton continues to develop, with new businesses opening at the Three Springs Crossing development put together in recent years by Dan Spanovich. Once the site of a Wal-Mart retail outlet, the land has been converted into an expansive commercial plaza, with dozens of locally owned and operated businesses either opening their doors or moving for expansion.

There also is still hope for more such commercial growth along the nearby Park Drive, with the installation of the necessary infrastructure coming soon.

In the area of tourism, the Nutcracker Village continues to be a big draw in Steubenville, attracting thousands of visitors each year as new festivities are planned and new nutcracker characters are brought to life.

The Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau, which helps to promote the Mountain State’s two northern-most counties, has plans of its own for growth, with the announcement it soon will be relocating its offices, along with the Summit Art Gallery, to a larger location along Main Street in Weirton.

Plans are to provide space where residents and visitors alike can learn more about each of the communities in Hancock and Brooke counties, with informational displays and more, while also viewing and appreciating the works of local artists.

Brooke Hills Park, also, has seen some growth of its own, with a new splash pad currently under construction at the park’s pool, and in Steubenville, plans continue for a new family fun center in the former Sears building at the Fort Steuben Mall.

The arts also continue to grow, with the Top of West Virginia Arts Council planning a variety of events, and the Striplight Theatre Co. continuing its efforts to showcase locally produced theatrical works.

This, of course, is just a small sample of some of the growth we’ve seen. It might not seem like much, but it is progress and something in which we all should take pride.

(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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