By GOV. JOE MANCHIN

CHARLESTON -- I was pleased to be a part of the West Virginia public service awards ceremony recently.

This annual event honors public employees for their years of outstanding service to our state. It was truly amazing to consider that the state employees that were honored during that ceremony had a combined total of several thousand years of experience working with and for the people our great state.

We all should be proud that West Virginia has made tremendous progress in recent years and people around the country and the world are taking notice. Because of the diligence of our faithful state employees -– and they truly have stepped up to the plate to help us meet our goals –- West Virginia is in sound financial condition, despite a bruising national economy.

Although we can never say it enough, state employees and the important work they do each day mean a great deal not just to state officials and our administration, but to the people of West Virginia who depend on them to keep government services running smoothly. Because of the dedication of our public employees, we are able to build an even better government.

I'll also point out that the hard work they have done will not end. We will continue to ask more of our state employees as we work together to build a new West Virginia. I am confident, however, that we all share the same goals of moving our state forward and that we will continue to work together to reach them.

Yes, the effectiveness and efficiency of government requires leadership, but it depends on public employees and volunteers whose task it is to provide top-notch services to fellow West Virginians. Public employees are the backbone of our state government, and the reason our state has been and will continue to be successful.

President Harry S. Truman said, "We know that helping others is the best way -- probably the only way to achieve a better future for ourselves." This statement is true, especially for state workers, because they are helping to build a better state for our children and grandchildren.

I am proud to acknowledge the dedication, talents and contributions made by public employees at all levels of government. I want each state employee to be proud to call the State of West Virginia their employer.

Manchin is governor of West Virginia.

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