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Help us to honor our local Community Stars

Oct. 27, 1998, was a typical Tuesday.

Residents from around the Tri-State Area went about their normal routines. Steubenville City Council held its regular weekly meeting.

But while all of that was going on, a special group was gathering in the banquet room at the old Lenora’s in Hollywood Plaza. And while several hundred people came together that evening to celebrate the region’s truly unsung heroes, very few of them would have ever guessed that the event they were enjoying would still be going strong 23 years later.

That dinner was the first of the annual Community Stars award recognition events that have been held by the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.

The goal of that evening was simple — to find the men and women and the girls and boys who have made a great impact on the lives of others while not seeking the spotlight. They are the people who do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do.

Plans are for this year’s program to return to its traditional format.

The 10 stars and their friends and family members will gather for this year’s dinner on Oct. 28 at Froehlich’s Classic Corner at the intersection of North Fifth and Washington streets in downtown Steubenville. They’ll receive an award and a gift certificate and, most important, thanks for all that they do from members of the community.

As in the past, a profile of each of the stars will be included in a special section that will be published in late October.

COVID-19 restrictions meant we were not able to hold a dinner last year, but each of those who had been selected for the honor saw their stories published in a special section, and each received his or her award in an in-person delivery.

One of the aspects of the program that makes it special is that our readers have great involvement in the selection of the honorees. Everyone is welcome to submit a nomination. There are few guidelines that cover who the nominees can be. In fact, the only real requirement is that a nominee be a resident of Jefferson or Harrison counties in Ohio, Hancock or Brooke counties in West Virginia or Washington County in Pennsylvania.

There are no age restrictions — past honorees have been younger than 10 and older than 90.

Nominations must be received by Oct. 5. That’s when the really hard work will begin — a panel of reporters and editors from the newspapers will go through the nominations and select the 10 people who will be honored. It’s a difficult process — each year between brings between 50 and 80 nominations.

We will need the name, address and telephone number of the nominee along with the name, address and telephone number of the person making the nomination as well as a brief description of why you think that person is a Community Star. You can submit nominations to City Editor Mike McElwain, Attn: Community Stars, Herald-Star, 401 Herald Square, Steubenville, Ohio 43952. E-mail submissions can be sent to newsroom@heraldstaronline.com. You can find a nomination form in most editions of the newspaper.

Community Stars has a new presenting sponsor this year — Main Street Bank. Thanks to its commitment to our region, the program will continue to grow. Returning to help with the program this year is M&M True Value Hardware on Sunset Boulevard in Steubenville, which again will provide gift cards for the honorees.

Those who have been selected as Community Stars in the past have come from many different walks of life, yet there is a common thread that connects each of them with all who have been recognized since 1998 — they are willing to do what is needed to make our region a better place to live.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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