West Virginia is "Wild, Wonderful" once more. At least on signs along the highway.

The slogan earned 28,046 votes, beating out "Almost Heaven" and "The Mountain State," the governor's office announced Wednesday.

West Virginians cast more than 110,000 votes over the Internet and by telephone in two rounds of voting since the contest was announced on Sept. 5.

"Wild, Wonderful" will officially replace "Open for Business" on West Virginia interstate welcome signs after it is approved by the Legislature in January.

Some state residents had complained and petitioned against "Open for Business," which appeared on signs after Gov. Joe Manchin's 2006 State of the State Address.

The slogan was designed to be temporary, said Lara Ramsburg, spokeswoman for the governor.

"It was time to change the signs anyway, so we temporarily put up `Open for Business.' It made sense to the governor that now it was time to ask the people for their choice," she said.

The signs have been in place for over two years. The larger signs, at state borders, made with a temporary design should bear the new slogan within a month of the change to state code. Other, smaller signs bearing the slogan will take a little longer to replace, she said.

"Open for Business" will remain the slogan for initiatives by the State Economic Development Office.

"Wild, Wonderful" adorned the roadway signs from 1975 until 1991. Despite the flack the government has received over the new slogan, the highway signs had no slogan from 1991 until January of 2005.

"Nobody really seemed to notice," Ramsburg said.

Several students who voted in the online poll or joined Facebook groups in support of a new slogan said they were satisfied by the announcement.

"`Open for Business' makes you sound desperate. It's almost like `Welcome to Poverty.' It makes us look bad," said Ryan Nuzum, a freshman biology major from Fairmont.

"They didn't ask us to change it," said Matt Basil, a sophomore psychology major from Weirton. "It made the state look tacky, like `We Need Money.'"

The state decided to use a contest to choose the new slogan after citizens successfully helped choose the new paint scheme for the gilding on the capital dome in a similar vote, Ramsburg said.

This poll considered the top three winners from the first round of voting. "Almost Heaven" came in second with 17,591 votes and "The Mountain State" was third with 3,120. Nearly 49,000 West Virginians voted in the final round.

Ramsburg said the organizers tried to make voting as quick and easy as possible to encourage participation.

"I'm delighted we had such a large number of West Virginians who took the opportunity to choose their favorite slogan," Manchin said in a statement. "I truly want to thank everyone for their participation and for the creative suggestions many provided during the first round of voting. We had a lot of worthy entries, but it is clear that West Virginians love to call this state `Wild, Wonderful.'"

kellen.henry@mail.wvu.edu