The challenges ahead are great, but expectations are high as Gov. Joe Manchin prepares to celebrate his second four-year term today in Charleston.

The 2009 Inauguration festivities for Gov. Joe Manchin begin today at 1 p.m. Despite tough times and a growing national recession, the inauguration promises to highlight a new day of hope and progress for West Virginia.

It is being called a “journey” to celebrate a new West Virginia. Two days of activities to demonstrate pride, hope and energy in the Mountain State.

Manchin said he is proud and humbled to be given another term to serve West Virginia and its people.

While the road ahead won’t be easy, there is reason for optimism and hope in West Virginia. We have weathered the national financial storm — at least for the moment — in West Virginia. Much of the Mountain State, including the Bluefield area, has also dodged the mortgage meltdown that helped send our nation spiraling into a deep recession.

West Virginia’s finances remain strong — at least for now — thanks to the leadership of Manchin. In hopes of keeping the state strong, the governor is promising to limit spending as we enter the new year.

During the past four years, Manchin has helped raise the quality of life in West Virginia by following an agenda based on good common sense and a business-based approach. In many ways, he has operated the Mountain State as a business.

As the chief executive officer, Manchin is always searching for ways to keep his business growing, and strong. His leadership has paid many dividends.

West Virginia led the nation in economic growth from May to August of 2008. Taxes for both businesses and residents were reduced, which included efforts by Manchin to cut the food tax in half. The privatization of the state workers’ compensation system — long championed by this newspaper — reduced business costs an average 27 percent and saved more than $150 million for West Virginia companies.

The last four years have been good for West Virginia, hopes are high for the next four years under Manchin’s leadership.

We do realize that difficult times are approaching, and a financial storm is knocking at our door. It is our hope that we can continue to weather the national recession for as long as possible through the steadfast leadership of Manchin.

Today, we celebrate a new beginning for West Virginia. A new journey for the Mountain State.

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