PARKERSBURG -Parkersburg officials are jolly as they close the book on 2012 and review the city's standing.
Mayor Bob Newell said all things considered, the city had a good year.
"Overall this valley has had a pretty good year," he said. "I truly believe that. Not just Parkersburg, but the entire valley."
Newell, who was recently re-elected to his third term as mayor, looked back on the year and laid out some plans for 2013. He said the city remains in good shape financially, having paid down high-interest loans, while refinancing other large loan packages.
"We continue to reduce the size of our operation," he said.
"We are hoping council will go along with the continued pattern of trying to find positions that are redundant and reduce the size of government."
"I feel better about our financial situation going into this year than I have for a while," said Parkersburg City Councilman Jim Reed. "We are pretty solid."
Newell said the city's quality of life continues to improve. He pointed to the completion of renovations and re-opening of the improved Point Park and the first phase of the Little Kanawha Connector.
"The money is in place to finish the rest of it (the connector) this coming year," he said, adding the completed bike trail will extend to the city limits on West Virginia 47.
Newell also applauded the completion of the Boundless Playground at City Park.
"It's the first of its kind in our state and was made possible through the efforts of the Junior League Women," he said.
Reed is also interested in the push for a baseball team and stadium. He wants to push officials to move forward and make a decision. The creation of a stadium and team would be a great quality-of-life aspect for the area, he said.
"Are we going to be able to do it?" he asked and said if there is interest, the plan needs to move forward.
"If not, let's focus our interest elsewhere," Reed said.
Newell said renovations by the car dealers along Seventh Street have improved the area.
"Many of the car dealerships have invested a lot of money in their businesses," he said. "New businesses have really improved the east end of Parkersburg."
Officials will continue to focus on growing the downtown. The mayor credited city council's approval of the vacant building renovation tax credits.
"We have talked a lot about renewed interest in some of those buildings downtown. I am looking for some of those things to come to fruition," Newell said.
Reed said the city has made some progress as far as economic development, most recently with incentives to push the hotel project through.
"The city's job is to try to create that economic developments," he said. "Sometimes we have to give some concession, but in the long range it pays dividends."
"We are looking forward to what Marcellus Shale in the state will do for our area," Newell said.
The news isn't all good. The city remains bogged down by several lawsuits from individuals, the Fraternal Order of Police and its fight with the Police Civil Service Commission over the termination of officer Floyd Holliday and certification of the sergeant's exam.
Newell said the suits were a "low point" for the city but said many of them were politically motivated. He expects many - if not all - of them to be reconciled this year.
"I'm surprised they haven't been resolved already," he said. "We are at the mercy of the courts and its scheduling. As far as the city is concerned, we are waiting for our day in court."
Newell said the June derecho was also a trying time for the area. He noted the region was fortunate no one was killed and only a few suffered injuries.
"At the same time it was costly for business. ... The community came together pretty well and got through it."
As the city moves to the new year, Newell said one of his focuses this term will be to develop the Little Kanawha River property that was formerly occupied by the state highway department.
"I don't want the city to take possession of the property as much as to get the state to work to develop that into a mixed-use site."
Newell had previously discussed the idea of having the site converted into a river port. He also wants city council to explore home rule program.
"Parkersburg ought to take a look at it, is all I am saying. Or we can continue to let (the state legislature) run the cities, which hasn't been very efficient."