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Shining Stars: The Nelson Family

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“It's a canvas waiting to be painted. There's opportunity. There's empty lots waiting to be filled, there's trails waiting to be built. Parks waiting to be rebuilt. It's just opportunity.

Seeking opportunities to make Steubenville a better place is standard practice for the Nelson family, this week's Shining Stars.

If you live in Steubenville, chances are you already know of Mark Nelson. He and his wife and their nine children each do their small part to make a big impact on the community they love so much.

“This next space is another store front; this is going to be a popcorn shop: Steubenville popcorn company,”

Flavors will feature all things Steubenville like the Baron Blend and Bridge Blend.

It's just an idea that popped in the mind of Mark Nelson.

“Wake up, sometimes in the middle of the night, lay in bed thinking about things, ideas or problems or opportunities,” Mark said.

There's Nelson Fine Arts on Lincoln Avenue, a national gift manufacturing business. There’s also a family farm on Coal Hill in Steubenville, where the family runs a maple syrup manufacturing business.

And Mark is highly involved in city government. If that weren't enough, he recently purchased three store fronts on North Fourth Street.

“Full-fledged coffee roasting, we don't know the name of it yet,” Mark said.

He has a lot of ideas brewing, but he doesn’t do it alone.

“So Madeline is 22, Therese is 21, Gabe is 19, Genna is 17, Max is 15 Domenic is 11, Jake is nine, Callista is seven and Zoe is three,” Mark said.

Mark and his wife Gretchen met at Franciscan University. They weren't born in Steubenville, but they've made it their home.

“I always say I see the town as an extension of my home and I like my home to be beautiful,” Mark said. “I like it to be a welcoming place.”

The kids play a big role.

Genna is lending her voice to bring attention to the revitalization efforts of the Grande Theatre.

“It's a treasure,” she said. “It's something we shouldn't lose. We shouldn't waste it, so I'm looking forward to it being completely renovated.”

Terese is working on a large nativity scene display. She’s most known for her creative role in designing and decorating dozens of life-sized nutcrackers for the city's nutcracker village and advent market during the holidays. However, her passion for Steubenville is year-round.

“You can walk down the middle of the street any time of day and its peaceful and people are nice,” she said.

Even little Domenic knows you have to keep busy to make things better.

“To rebuild the community,” he said.

All of the kids credit their dad for leading by example.

“Probably the best dad that anybody could ask for and more than just being there and providing for the family in the sense of having a job and making money and bringing home the bacon, but he took it a step further, and all of this work for the city and as a father figure for us, making a home that we can stay in and well want to raise our kids in,” said.

As for how he feels about them, Mark says he couldn’t be prouder.

The Nelsons hope others will join them in a journey to make Steubenville a better place.

“Use whatever God's given you to the best of your ability and hopefully go home tired at night, but at least fulfilled and know that you gave it your best,” Mark said.

Mark is hoping the popcorn and coffee shop should be open by summer.

The kids are already hard at work creating dozens of new nutcrackers for the Nutcracker Village.

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