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Little bit of good news

If you think you have been having a hard time finding positive news during the last six or seven months, you are right.

That’s why it was nice to learn during the past week that even though we still must take precautions against COVID-19, there are some good things happening around us.

One of those was the reassuring announcement last week that the nutcrackers will again return to the streets of Steubenville for their annual late-fall and early winter run.

The appearance of the life-sized nutcrackers has become a tradition that brightens the holiday for residents of the Tri-State Area. The village and advent market that are built every year in the area around Historic Fort Steuben also bring visitors from out of town — many of whom travel a significant distance to take in the magic that is part of the Christmas season.

As with everything around us, the display will look a little different. Therese Nelson, lead artist for the nutcracker project, explained there likely will be just 50 or so on display at the fort, with the remaining 125 or so placed at various locations around town. There will be significantly more nutcrackers that can be seen along the streets or in storefronts than there have been during the past few years.

You’ll still be able to take a walking tour of the nutcrackers if you like, or you can view them from your car.

And while there will be fewer chalets set up as part of the Advent village, and food vendors will be moved to the fort’s parking lot, visitors still will be able to share in the experience.

It also will allow tourists to come to Steubenville, and that’s important in itself. While coronavirus restrictions might make it a little more difficult, people who visit the city still likely will be interested in visiting a local business, eating at a local restaurant or buying gasoline or a snack at a local station. And that’s important for our local economy and local businesses, many of which are working hard to continue to find new ways to serve the public.

Learning about the cancellation of longstanding events has, sadly, become common since the middle of March. And, the reality is, that list of cancellations now extends into the first couple of months of 2021. But that doesn’t mean some groups have stopped looking for ways to allow events to go on — even if the scale has to be different.

In Steubenville, for instance, Mayor Jerry Barilla, who doubles as president of Historic Fort Steuben, said organizers are looking into how they can hold the city’s annual Christmas parade. The same thing is happening across the river, where officials with the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce continue to discover ways to put on their annual Christmas parade.

• Another bit of positive news came when we learned that 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna is continuing to seek a way to turn the old City Building on Third Street in Steubenville into a public market.

There are grants available to help with the cost of the project, Villamagna explained. His original hope was that the project could be included in the city’s 2021 budget, but declines in revenue that can be traced to job losses and business closures related to COVID-19 have put those plans in jeopardy.

The market would be a good addition to Third Street, and would become another way to attract people to the downtown area. Its location right across the street from Historic Fort Steuben would give visitors to that area another option in which to browse and maybe grab a meal.

And, it would allow at least a part of the building — there’s no other place for Municipal Court Judge John Mascio to go — to be returned to its original use, and build off of the city’s history.

Many structures that had historical significance in the city have been torn down over the years, and even more have been allowed to die slowly through a lack of maintenance or interest from members of the community. To be able to repurpose the old City Building and use it in a way that can help the community grow is a great idea — one that needs to be followed through on.

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

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