Two interesting reads

If you didn’t have the chance to read a couple of articles that were in the March 31 edition, you really owe it to yourself to make some time to check them out.

The first dealt with our region’s populations numbers, and as Mark Law and Craig Howell reported in their article “Study doesn’t tell the whole story,” while the population in the Metropolitan Statistical Area that includes Steubenville and Weirton has fallen, there are signs a rebound could be on the way.

There was a common thread that connected the comments made by several of the local officials who were contacted for the article: While the huge integrated steel mills that stood on both sides of the Ohio River at one point generated more than 20,000 jobs are gone, our area is finding that steel likely will continue to play a significant role in our economy.

There are jobs still to be had in processing steel, for instance, as well as opportunities being generated at the JSW USA facility in Mingo Junction and in the oil and gas fields that surround us.

Jobs — those are what are needed to help end the population decline, which according to a recent article in USA Today, saw our area’s population fall to 118,250 from the 124,326 recorded in the 2010 census.

Employment opportunities are here now, and more are coming, according to two people who are in a pretty good position to know, Evan Scurti and Pat Ford. Scurti, the executive director of the Jefferson County Port Authority, said there are plenty of positive signs, from local governments taking steps to modernize infrastructure to the creation of new recreation areas. Ford, meanwhile, says our area is building toward the future while “rightsizing” itself.

While at first glance the census numbers could appear to be troubling, when you look at the bigger picture that is being developed in the background you can begin to see there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future.


Another story that deserves your attention is Janice Kiaski’s profile of our now-retired local librarian, “A final read on Alan Hall.”

Hall’s work in Steubenville and the communities that surround it during the past 36 years has transformed the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County and its several branches into a state-of-the-art system that stands ready to serve the residents of the region for many years to come. That’s important to remember about Hall, the former executive director of the library who retired as the assistant director last Sunday.

He has a lot to say about the important roles mentors have played in his life. From Opal Bole, who as his second-grade teacher took him and his classmates on a field trip to the Washington County Public Library and, later, as the high school librarian who encouraged him to volunteer at the library; to employees at the Delphos Public Library, where he worked before coming to Steubenville.

Hall also shares fond memories of his late mother, who took him to the library every week when he was a child.

Kiaski also has captured a little bit of Hall’s sense of humor, which is as dry as the best James Bond martini and can be every bit as satisfying. Thankfully, he plans to remain an active part of the community and continue his service on boards and in clubs, which means area residents likely will have ample opportunity to share a laugh or two with him.

If you missed either story, you owe it to yourself to go back and read it. And, if you read the stories, you need to go back and re-read them.

One tells us that there’s reason to expect a brighter future, while the other provides an insightful look at an area resident and, among other things, offers a reminder that we can have a positive impact in the lives of others.

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