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Paying attention to our communities

Hopefully regular readers of The Times Leader noticed something new and different this month.

As COVID-19 cases decline and businesses and activities begin to open up, our staff members are reaching out to more and more entities in our local communities in an effort to reconnect with them and to help them renew their connections with the public.

On Page B3 of today’s newspaper, you will find an entire page dedicated to Woodsfield — this week’s “featured community.” There, we take a look at educational opportunities in Monroe County, at a coming change to a longtime local business and at the variety of services that are available to everyone via the public library.

Woodsfield is the fourth community that we have featured so far. Others have included Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville and Barnesville, and we intend to keep visiting and reporting on them on a rotating weekly basis.

Certainly, we will continue to conduct regular reporting on other communities all across Eastern Ohio. From Sardis, Clarington and Hannibal to the south along the Ohio River in Monroe County to Cadiz, Freeport, Scio, Yorkville, Mount Pleasant and Dillonvale to the north, we will continue to report on breaking news, criminal activity, government meetings and the interesting exploits and good deeds of residents there.

The same will remain true for villages in Belmont County, including Flushing, Powhatan Point, Shadyside, Bellaire, Morristown, Belmont, Bethesda, Centerville and Jacobsburg. Of course we can’t be everywhere all the time, but we will do our best to keep tabs on happenings throughout the entire region.

We want to hear from you, too. If you know of news happening in your own community — or perhaps where you work or play — feel free to contact us. You can call the office at 740-633-1131. I can be reached at extension 731, but any staff members will be happy to help you.

You can also reach us via the Virtual Newsroom on our website at timesleaderonline.com. In addition, you can email us. Individual reporters’ email addresses are listed on our website, or you can contact the newsroom account at timesleader@timesleaderonline.com.

Finally, we welcome you to send us a message through our Facebook page.

In the meantime, we will keep looking for and sharing the new developments that are occurring in our “featured communities” of Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville, Barnesville and Woodsfield. We hope you will enjoy these pages each week. We are certainly enjoying the opportunity to present them to you.

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Not only has our staff been spending more time exploring area communities as restrictions have been lifted, but I have also taken to exploring my own community more often as the weather has warmed up.

Afternoon walks have become a favorite pastime for me. Of course, the activity is good for me, but I’m not really putting a lot of effort into making these outings exercise sessions.

Instead, I am using the time to clear my mind and take in my surroundings. I enjoy catching sight of the first bird of a particular type that I have seen this season. And the rabbits and squirrels that are frolicking around the neighborhood are quite entertaining.

One day last week, I took things with my observation skills a bit further. I pulled out my cellphone, turned on the camera and began seeking photo opportunities. I wasn’t looking for news photos. Instead, I decided to try and capture a little bit of the character of my community.

I was actually quite pleased with the results.

The first thing I noticed was what appeared to be a carpet of crocuses lining one side of Main Street here in Belmont. The soft lavender hue of those blossoms immediately caught my eye.

The rustic nature of the buildings and properties in the village also got my attention. From an old water pump with firewood stacked beside it, to a split rail fence and a metal wagon wheel decorating a lawn, it seemed that each site had its own unique character — and charm.

The cream-colored brick walls of the United Methodist Church served as a perfect backdrop for the deep purple sash draped over a cross on its lawn. I expect it will be switched to white next Sunday, marking Easter and Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

I spent time noticing interesting grates on buildings, broken brick facades that formed interesting patterns and historic elements, such as the small sets of steps still scattered along curbs around the village. As a child I called those “stairs to nowhere;” in reality, they were used for mounting horses many decades ago.

It was really nice to get back to an aspect of my job that I have always loved — taking photos. It also has been nice to get out an about again, and to pay attention to things in my community. I recommend it for everyone.

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