THUMBS UP to everyone who made the Community Thanksgiving Dinner possible.

Volunteers said 50 turkeys and more than 2,000 meals were prepared for the 34th Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner this week despite rain in the forecast.

The annual holiday event brings community members together — whether that's for a sit-down meal at the Pittsburg County emergency Management Center or for a meal at home with deliveries and carryout meals available.

Anyone who wants to participate in the annual dinner can do so for free without any age or income guidelines.

This is one of the many opportunities for everyone to come together and enjoy time in the community during the holiday season with parades, concerts and more coming soon.

Community members should get out and participate in such events to promote a sense of community, get to know your neighbors, and have fun without traveling too far.

We applaud everyone making these free, family-friendly events available for our community to enjoy.

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THUMBS UP to everyone working to help McAlester grow.

Progress is being made on two projects in Tax Increment Financing districts that will bring jobs, tax collections, and more retail and dining options to the city.

A groundbreaking ceremony for The Shops at McAlester is set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 5 at the site of the planned retail and shopping center planned for Fourteenth Street and U.S. Highway 69.

The city of McAlester and Pittsburg County agreed to let the developer have 90 percent of sales tax collections from the site until either a $5.5 million threshold is reached or until five years have elapsed. Plans call for a Hobby Lobby and TJ Maxx, among other businesses, at the site, which is expected to open in late 2020 or early 2021.

Progress was also made in downtown after the McAlester Regional Health Center hosted a planning meeting for their acquisition of the Million Building.

MRHC plans to turn the building into a vibrant retail and community space anchored by a medical spa, featuring plastic surgeon Dr. John Tedesco. Officials said they want to feature local businesses and eateries at the site to promote economic development.

Both of these projects are projected to bring in jobs and tax collections with the idea of injecting life to the city, which we hope is accomplished.

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THUMBS UP to McAlester students for their efforts in recycling.

Linda Hutchison and Jennifer Lewis, both teachers at McAlester's Will Rogers Elementary School, recently accepted the Uncapped Award on behalf of their fourth-grade students at the 2019 Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Environmental Excellence Awards.

The students recycled bottle caps and used them in a portrait of a buffalo, titled "For the Love of Buffalo Pride."

We applaud these students for being creative in helping keep our community beautiful.

• McAlester News-Capital Editorial Board

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