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Things appear to be getting better

The sun has been shining brighter the last few days, and birdsong has been filling the air more frequently. The grass has been getting greener.

We’re making our way out of the winter doldrums, and spring is fast approaching.

This is my favorite time of year, and not just because it means my birthday is coming. Spring is a time of rebirth and hope in our yearly cycle of nature. It’s a reminder of life and light after the dreary, snow-covered days of the last few months.

Flowers bloom, leaves reappear on the trees, things begin to grow. Life happens.

This spring, though, will still be a bit different from what we’ve known in the past.

While there has been an increase of hope across the nation, with three vaccines now available against the COVID-19 virus, this spring will still be filled with uncertainty in many ways.

Many of the events we have become accustomed to seeing are either canceled or modified for social distancing.

The Weirton Festival of Nations, for example, will not be held again this year. The event, organized by the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center as a celebration of our community’s ethnic and cultural heritage, was the first local event to be canceled last year as the virus began to spread through the nation.

There are plans in the city for an Easter activity, but I’ll wait to discuss that until the plans are finalized. I haven’t heard much beyond that for the time being. I’m sure it’s because of the time and effort it takes to plan so much of what we do that those responsible figured they would wait until our situation become a little more clear and definite.

Winter sports have started up for our local West Virginia schools, just as they are ending for our Ohio schools. Spring sports are still about a month away. Both have abbreviated seasons scheduled.

It’s better than last year, when everything was being canceled, businesses were being closed and we were told to stay at home as much as possible. We’re not out of the woods quite yet, but it’s getting better.

The federal government seems to think there will be enough vaccine produced to have every adult in the nation taken care of by the end of May or early June. West Virginia has lowered its eligibility age so now those 50 and up can get the vaccine.

So, by the time Independence Day comes around this year, there’s a chance we could all be out celebrating for a variety of reasons.

In the meantime, we at least have more options than we did one year ago. Businesses are available for us to visit and purchase our needs and wants. Some restrictions are being lifted, depending on the state, so small crowds are possible in certain situations.

It’s still going to take some time to find a return to some sort of normalcy, although this is something we will remember for a long time to come. We at least have that goal seemingly moving closer than we probably thought possible even a few months ago.

I figure, at least in our region of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the latter part of this year will include at least a few of our favorite community festivals, maybe some local summer concerts, family gatherings and even a few weekend getaways if we so choose.

We’re still going to need to take some precautions, just to stay on the safe side, but things do appear to be getting better.

(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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