Real progress to report

If you visit any restaurant or watering hole in our area, you’re sure to come upon some interesting conversations.

The topics might vary, but it’s likely that there will be an awful lot of time spent talking about the bad things that are happening around the region.

Yes, there are problems. Communities across our area are faced with aging infrastructure and the realities of the inconvenience constant repairs can present and that any long-term fixes will not come cheap. From water lines to roads, significant amounts of money will need to be invested to bring those concerns under control.

There also are parts of our area that do not have access to adequate broadband service, which creates issues on many levels. Students can have trouble connecting to the Internet to work on assignments, medical professionals and first responders can have difficulty accessing information that can help save lives and because the systems needed for businesses to function today are so interconnected, lack of Internet access in a given area means employers are very unlikely to locate there.

And, of course, there are complaints about elected officials not being able to make a difference. Those issues are being raised, we remind everyone, in a period where fewer and fewer people are willing to step forward and run for offices — where they, themselves, could help make a difference. Voting cycles in our area have lately seen too many primaries where candidates are unopposed and too many general elections where candidates for many offices are unopposed.

It’s convenient for those who do choose to seek office, but leaves residents with no real choices.

Each of those issues is important, but, and this is important as well, don’t allow yourself to get caught up in all that negative talk.

There are many positive things happening around our area, and you’ll be able to see some great examples during February, when we publish our annual Progress Edition.

Pride. Purpose. Prosperity — that’s the theme of our annual comprehensive look at what’s happening around the region. From local business, to education, to recreation, the annual publication offers a glimpse of what’s happened during he past year or so and, more important, a look at plans for the growth this year and well into the future.

Our annual Progress Edition remains one of the most anticipated publications of the year. And, as we have done for the past several years, it will be delivered in five different days spread throughout February, beginning next Sunday, when we offer a perspective on the region’s economic outlook.

Once again at the center will be a status report about the two cracker plants that should soon be operating. Shell’s facility in Monaca continues to take shape, while an official announcement is expected to be made this year about the long-anticipated plant in Dilles Bottom.

Remember that Steubenville sits almost exactly halfway between the plants, which, development officials continue to tell us, puts our area in a sweet spot for growth related to those facilities.

The section you’ll receive on Feb. 9 will offer a look at our communities and the retail and financial segments of our economy, while Feb. 16 will focus on the area’s tourism business and lifestyles. Education and health take center stage Feb. 23 before we wrap up the month on Feb. 28 with a examination of local business, industry and transportation.

Each of the sections on its own offers an interesting read about a segment of our area. When you put all five together, you will have a clear and concise package that covers all aspects of life in our region, including profiles of local businesses and organizations, and each has an impressive story to tell.

Problems — yeah, we have a few. But there also are many reasons to be optimistic, as you will find when you read our annual Progress Edition.

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