There have been good things-or potentially good things-happening in Parkersburg of late.
And I don't just mean the proposed cracker plant. In recent years, there has been development in the downtown area, an area long in need of it. But sometimes, we just don't see it, or it gets pushed to the back burner of our attention, because of other problems happening at the time.
In recent years, we have seen a new Highmark (formerly Blue Cross Blue Shield) building on Market Street, an expansion of WVU-Parkersburg, and a small number of shops and eateries-all of them downtown.
I think the reason that didn't happen sooner was that people wanted downtown to be what it once was-a retailing hub; a place where everyone came to shop at night and on weekends (remember, Towne Square was once conceived as a retail complex). As time went on, people finally realized that was part of Parkersburg's past, thanks to development on Murdoch Avenue, all the way to Grand Central Mall and Vienna.
Friday, as a follow-up to Thursday's announcement of (perhaps, finally) a new tenant for the Uptowner Inn property (which has been vacant longer than it has been in business), I spoke to former mayor and long-time restaurant owner Jimmy Colombo, who was one of those who tried to fill that property.
His last comment to me, in our interview, was that people in the area need to be more positive.
"I know we all hit ups and downs and bumps," Colombo told me. "But if you can't pull together, and you can't make things happen, then it won't happen."
"Positive" was a word used by former chamber of commerce president George Kellenberger so often, it was as if he had a copyright on it. But it seemed he was the only one saying it. The business and industrial closings that have happened during my time at WTAP (and before it) so dwarfed anything else that it was difficult to believe any good news that did happen.
Events like the Parkersburg Homecoming Festival, A Taste of Parkersburg and others also bring thousands to the downtown area every year. And not far away, the Multi-Cultural Festival in City Park brought thousands more in this past weekend, even though the festival was washed out by rain Friday night.
So while we're concerned about the crisis in Iraq (or war, depending on which news source you watch), or the mess with the Wood County Board of Education, keep in mind that, while it doesn't always lead our newscasts (and the Uptowner/Marriott story led ours), there is good news.
And we do report it.
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