WHEELING - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin believes Washington should look to the local Project B.E.S.T. organization to learn the value of cooperation.
Manchin, D-W.Va., came from Washington to speak as Project B.E.S.T. celebrated the holiday season with its annual breakfast Wednesday at Oglebay Park. More than 400 turned out for the 26th-annual event.
The agency, Building Efficiency by Striving Together, is a cooperative effort involving building trades contractors and craftspeople throughout the Ohio Valley.
DISCUSSION — Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie, left, greeted U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin during the annual Project B.E.S.T. breakfast Wednesday at Oglebay Park.
-- Joselyn King
Among those attending the breakfast Wednesday were local government leaders and organizations Project B.E.S.T. wished to thank for their involvement with major construction projects locally in 2012. West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and state Auditor Glen Gainer were among state officials present in the ballroom at Wilson Lodge.
Manchin, who served as keynote speaker, said he left Washington Tuesday night after the Senate's last vote and planned to return before voting resumes this afternoon in the chamber.
Manchin commended the work of Project B.E.S.T., and he noted that since 1971 it has brought labor and management in the trades together to improve the local community.
"Washington, D.C., could use some of that spirit," he said. "Project B.E.S.T. should be a model for us all - working together for the good of the community, for the good of the country. They do it, and they do it right."
Before the event, Manchin spoke about the "fiscal cliff" budget debate happening in Washington. If lawmakers fail to reach a compromise before the end of the year, 2 percent payroll tax cuts for Americans expire after Dec. 31 and automatic spending cuts take effect.
"The people shouldn't be held in suspense," Manchin said. "We should be willing to get this done."
He said he still supports the Bowles-Simpson plan for economic recovery, which determined a mix of spending cuts and tax increases would be needed to reduce the national debt. They also proposed across-the-board cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and defense, along with reforming the federal tax code.
Project B.E.S.T. honored the following for construction projects this year, and for hiring Project B.E.S.T. union contractors for the work: Belmont County commissioners; Franciscan University of Steubenville; Hancock County Board of Education; Hess Corp.; Indian Creek Local School District; Iron Workers Local 549; Main Street Bank; Ohio Valley Mall; St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church; West Virginia Economic Development Authority; and West Virginia Northern Community College.
"We are pleased to recognize these local businesses for their leadership in the Ohio Valley and utilizing local contractors and building trades craftsmen," said state Sen. Orphy Klempa, D-Wheeling, who serves as co-chairman of Project B.E.S.T.
Klempa takes office as an Ohio County commissioner effective Jan. 1.
Thomas Cerra, also co-chairman of Project B.E.S.T., noted the construction achievements in the Ohio Valley during 2012.
"Project B.E.S.T. provided a productive labor climate in the Ohio Valley that has restored and maintained good relations between management and labor, steadily improving the construction industry while attracting investors and delivering new and significant growth to the area," he said.