Standing test of time

There are many great events held throughout the Tri-State Area each year.

And, while there always are some new ones that come along and some just naturally run their course and disappear, there are those that have become annual traditions. They’re the ones that people start to look forward to year in and year out.

Consider all the festivals and events that have taken place just since the beginning of June.

The Dean Martin Festival, for example, has been around for more than two decades, bringing fans from around the world to Steubenville to celebrate his life and accomplishments. And then there’s the Greek Food Festival held each year at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, which celebrated its 33rd year in June.

We’ve seen a couple of more examples in just the past week. Follansbee Community Days, for instance, will wrap up it 26th year later today. On Saturday, Weirton’s annual Greek Festival completed its three-day run at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church. Also on Saturday, the Weirton Steel 25-Year Club held its annual picnic, an event held for more than 70 years to recognize those employees who reached 25 years or more of service to the steelmaker.

There are several things that each of those events has in common, factors that have allowed them to return year after year. One is that the events have to fit into a special place. Another is that those who help to organize them have to be willing to make changes, even the most subtle ones, that are needed over time to keep them fresh. That in itself requires a fine balancing act, as old traditions are maintained while new twists are added. And yet another is that the members of the community have to continue to be willing to show their support.

An event that meets that criteria is the Community Stars program that is presented annually by the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.

It’s an annual recognition dinner that has grown since it was first held on Oct. 27, 1998.

And, while there have been a few tweaks in the program in the 21 years since, the goal remains the same — to honor the residents of the Tri-State Area who, despite the fact that they have a great impact on the lives of others, don’t seek the spotlight. They are the people who do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Community Stars is driven by readers of the newspapers. After they submit nominations, a panel that includes editors and reporters from the newspapers have the difficult task of selecting the 10 people who will be honored during the annual dinner.

This year’s is scheduled to be held Sept. 23 at Froehlich’s Classic Corner in downtown Steubenville.

This year’s nomination process is well under way. There are very few restrictions on who can be nominated. There’s no age limitation. Some past stars have been younger than 10 and others older than 90. About the only real requirement is that those who are nominated live in Jefferson or Harrison counties in Ohio, Brooke or Hancock counties in West Virginia or Washington County in Pennsylvania.

There’s an official nomination form that’s been appearing in the newspapers for a couple of weeks now, but if you don’t have one, that’s OK. All you have to do is submit to us the name, address and telephone number of your nominee along with your relationship to the nominee and a brief description of why you think that person is a Community Star. We’ll also need the name, address and telephone number of the person who makes the nomination.

You can submit that information by mail 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.

No matter how you make your nomination, we need to have the information by Aug. 7.

Each year we receive between 50 and 75 nominations, and nearly 200 people have attended each of the last several recognition dinners. A big part of that growth can be traced to the backing of Weirton Medical Center, which is the presenting sponsor, and M&M True Value Hardware in Steubenville, which provides gift cards for the honorees.

Even more important is the support Community Stars has received from members of the community.

That has allowed the program to remain vibrant, ensured more than 20 years of success and is the driving force behind the program.

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

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