UP: To United Bank, which celebrated its 173rd anniversary on Friday. The bank opened its doors as the Northwestern Bank of Virginia before Parkersburg was even a town. Since then, the bank has grown into a bank holding company with $8.5 billion in assets and duel headquarters in Charleston and Washington, D.C. United celebrated its anniversary with another longtime tradition: giving away shamrocks at all its Wood and Jackson County locations. This giveaway was started in 1902 by bank President Charles Neeley. Congratulations to United for its long history of being a financial foundation not only in Wood County, but nationally.
UP: To the 14th annual Very Spectacular Arts Festival, held this past Wednesday. The event, held at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, allowed more than 300 special needs students from throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley to take part in several arts and crafts activities and spend a wonderful day. Also a thumbs up to the volunteers who make this event possible.
UP: To the Ravenswood student who went to authorities after learning another student claimed to have a "hit list" and planned a school shooting at Ravenswood High School.
DOWN: To Shell's decision to build its long-anticipated, multibillion-dollar chemical "cracker" plant in Monaca, Pa., and not in West Virginia as had been hoped - and, frankly, anticipated. While the Houston, Texas-based company did not give a reason for its decision to locate the plant in Pennsylvania, it is a major disappointment.
UP: To Century Aluminum and company's retirees for coming to an agreement that will restore at least some of the retirees' health care benefits. The retirees lost their health care benefits in 2010, several months after the plant closed its smelter in 2009. The vote by the retirees is positive for another reason - the company said it was needed to reopen the plant.
DOWN: To the city of Vienna for reaching into its reserve fund to pay for a $260,000 multipurpose building and a park paving project, and $500,000 for street repairs while finding money to give city employees a 36-cent-an-hour raise, plus a 20-cent longevity pay increase. Is this the best way to manage Vienna taxpayers' money?