West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin told a gathering in Wheeling Wednesday that President-elect Barack Obama has made an "unprecedented" effort to forge a working relationship between the nation's governors and the White House.
Speaking at the Project BEST Holiday Breakfast at Oglebay Park, Manchin said he met with Obama Monday in Philadelphia during a meeting between the president-elect and the governors.
"This was unprecedented," Manchin said. "Never before in the history of our great country has a president-elect called the governors in. And he (Obama) set the tone by saying, 'This is a partnership of Democrats and Republicans. We're in this together.'"
Photos by Fred Connors
Attending the Project BEST holiday breakfast Wednesday at Oglebay Park are more than 400 guests representing elected officials and others involved in the building trades industry.
The governor said Obama understands the problems facing state governments.
"We have to make decisions everyday that affect our states, protect our people, balance our budgets and live within our means," Manchin said. "He (Obama) understands this and is eager to work with us, and that's so refreshing."
Manchin said he first met Obama during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
"His demeanor, self-confidence and demeanor remains the same today as it did back then when he was an Illinois state legislator," Manchin said.
Manchin said he is confident Obama will lend an ear to state governors.
"He assured us he is willing to listen, particularly to someone who may not agree with him," Manchin said.
More than 400 people, representing elected officials and people involved in the building trades, filled the Glessner Auditorium as Project Best presented awards to area businesses and scholarship money to several local colleges and universities.
Project BEST Co-chairman Tom Cerra presented awards to American Electric Power, Main Street Bank, McKinley Carter Wealth Services and McKinley Properties, Titanium Metals, WesBanco Inc. and the Wheeling Park Commission.
Money for scholastic scholarships was given to the B.M. Spurr School of Nursing, Belmont Technical College, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Jefferson County Community College, Kent State University East Liverpool Campus, Ohio University Eastern, Trinity Health System, West Liberty State College, West Virginia Northern Community College and Wheeling Jesuit University.
Co-chairman Orphie Klempa said, "Those companies and individuals that we honor here today are ones that have been leaders in their respective fields."
During his comments, Cerra said, "Project BEST has been a national leader in the movement to improve and expand relations in the construction industry and has led the nation by example as a result of his creative and flourishing concept."
Project BEST is a consortium of more than 400 building contractors, the Ohio Valley Construction Employers Council and more than 6,000 building trades craftsmen and apprentices of the Upper Ohio Valley Building and Construction Trades Council.
The organization represents labor and management working together to promote and advance the construction industry.