PARKERSBURG - Friends, family and community are the things local leaders said they are thankful for this year.
Keith Burdette, president of the Wood County Development Authority, said he is thankful for a happy, healthy family.
"I will have 32 members of my family at my home for Thanksgiving dinner this year," he said, adding a new addition to the family, a granddaughter, was born only a short time ago. "That is pretty incredible."
A community Thanksgiving Day meal is being served at noon today at First Christian Church on Washington Avenue in Parkersburg. Many other churches are also serving special dinners today.
Burdette said while the last year economically has not left a lot of reasons to be thankful, the spirit of the community has been a source of inspiration to its businesses.
"I think we are really blessed in this community with a lot of smart people running their businesses and doing their best to look after this community in incredibly difficult times," he said. "We could have been so much more negatively affected by what has happened in this country and the world over the last year."
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said he looks forward to family traditions on Thanksgiving.
"I'm grateful for my friends and my family, and the opportunity to serve such a great community," said Newell. "It might sound cliche, but it really is a privilege to be elected by members of a community like this. I have the chance to make changes that will be in place years after I'm out of the office."
Local economic health made the list of some leaders.
"The economy locally did not take as hard a hit in Wood County as it did on other areas; even though we are having a downturn, it is not as severe as it is in other places," said Rick Modesitt, president of the Wood County Commission. "For that I am thankful and the county is on a solid financial footing."
Modesitt said he was also thankful for health in his family.
"Personally, my family members are healthy and happy. I have an uncle in Akron who broke his hip this past spring," Modesitt said. "He had a rough time and I go to see him regularly to help.
"I am on my way up there to bring him in from an assisted living facility to have him in for Thanksgiving in Parkersburg. I am thankful we can bring him here and spend time with family."
"When you read of economic problems across the country, our income is not rising but stayed flat," said Vienna Mayor Dave Nohe. "We've been able to pay the bills and the lights are on, for that we are grateful."
Nohe said he was thankful for the health of his parents.
"My parents were ill last year but they are better and I get to spend another year with them and that makes it for me," he said.
Parkersburg fire Chief Eric Chichester said the holidays always make him reflect on the good things in his life.
"I'm most grateful for the fact that I have a job with the city of Parkersburg. Right now the city is doing well financially, while other cities are having a very difficult time. Many of them are having to lay off a lot of people. I feel blessed that I have a great public service job," Chichester said.
"Personally, I'm thankful for my wonderful family."
Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz said he is thankful for the city's financial position despite the times.
"As far as mayor I'm thankful the city in the position it is in. The leadership working well together, employees are wonderful to work with. I couldn't ask for a better staff. I tell them daily when we're discussing something or arguing, 'I can't do this without you.'"
Lorentz said he is also thankful for his family
"I am most thankful for my family," he said. "My wife of 38 years, two wonderful children and three grandchildren, so I'm blessed."
Bill Niday, superintendent of Wood County Schools, said he has many things to be thankful for this holiday season.
"In my personal life, I'm thankful my family is coming here for Thanksgiving dinner," he said Wednesday. "I'm thankful we can all be together on Thanksgiving.
"Professionally, I'm very thankful for all the staff we have that work for Wood County Schools and all of the students we have," Niday said. "Those two things combined allow us to have a really great school system."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., on Wednesday sent out Thanksgiving wishes, speaking of West Virginia's pride in the armed services, sense of community and those who serve those communities.
"On Thanksgiving, we reflect on everything we have to be grateful for," he said. "Today, countless West Virginians contribute to their communities in incredible ways: from teachers and firefighters, to police officers, social workers, community leaders and military men and women at home and abroad who perform a million acts of kindness every day. We owe you all a debt of gratitude for your overwhelming acts of service and compassion."
(Staff writers Jeffrey Saulton, Michael Erb and Natalee Seely contributed to this story.)