WHEELING – Mayor Glenn Elliott, during his annual State of the City address, shone the spotlight on several people in the community who, in their own way, helped pave the way for a brighter future for the friendly city .
Elliott delivered what he described as his “penultimate” State of the City address on Tuesday to a packed crowd inside the showroom at the Wheeling Island Casino Hotel Racetrack. The mayor, who is completing his second and final term, is expected to deliver a final state of the city address next July.
And the mayor said he’s really looking forward to — not just his swansong as Wheeling’s chief speaker and cheerleader, but what lies ahead for a city that’s clearly in the middle of a significant transformation.
“Let me say what should be obvious to anyone who drove here for today’s event – Wheeling remains a city under construction,” Elliott said, taking note of the long list of construction projects. millions of dollars that continue to unfold in the city. .
With orange barrels and construction equipment at every turn, Wheeling’s promise for a better future is underpinned by a mosaic of work zones that envelop nearly every neighborhood in the city today.
Elliott highlighted the ongoing $215 million Interstate 70 Bridges project that is entering its final stages, the $17.9 million renovation of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, the recently completed relocation of Nailers Way and the upcoming downtown streetscape project – a long-awaited state project for which bids opened earlier today in Charleston. A $1.8 million citywide paving contract is also set to go ahead this fall.
Along with road and bridge projects, the city also has its eyes on other public and private investments that are reshaping both Wheeling’s future and its skyline. From the Doris on Main apartment complex and the new Market Street parking lot – which are currently emerging from the ground, to the new headquarters of the Wheeling Police and Fire Department, the new Gateway Park on Wheeling Island, major renovations to the grounds of Edgington Lane, the planned development of Robrecht Riverfront Park and a myriad of other projects – it is clear that major investments are being made in the city’s future.
The mayor challenged everyone to stay focused on the big things ahead.
“I know there remain many in our community and probably some in this room who are convinced that the best days of downtown Wheeling are confined to the distant past, and that no future without the literal reincarnation of GC Murphy’s and Stone & Thomas Tea Room isn’t even worth discussing,” he said. “We are a city rich in history and heritage, and as a people we are prone to nostalgia.”
Elliott recalled his own fond memories of watching fireworks from atop the wharf parking garage and shopping from store to busy retail store through a bustling downtown.
“Remembering and even celebrating our past is important, but when taken too far, our obsession with the past can be problematic,” Elliott said. “Too often we define what is possible in the Wheeling Sole by looking to our past.”
The mayor issued this challenge: “Please try not to let your memories of Wheeling cloud your dreams for Wheeling,” he said. “The state of the city is bright and, for the first time in many generations, defined more by its future than its past. So hang in there.
THIS YEAR’S HONORED
Several local community leaders were recognized during the mayor’s state of the city address on Tuesday. Many winners were present at the event and were joined by family members at tables adorned with plaques bearing details of their contributions to the community.
The sixth annual Gateway Award recipient was former Wheeling Mayor Jack Fahey, who also served for many years on the City Council, Ohio County Commission, and West Virginia House of Delegates, among other councils and commissions. Fahey has been hailed for his passionate public service since the early 1970s, with career highlights that included his work on the Wheeling Creek Watershed Project, city charter review, and training and his subsequent induction into the Wheeling Hall of Fame.
The 11the The annual Community Spirit Award was presented in honor of the late John Nanny, a Navy veteran and active community advocate who died this year at the age of 79. Nanny was well known throughout the Wheeling area for her passionate support of veterans, military families and township youth. He also co-founded Youth Services System and served as its president for 14 years, founded the West Virginia Youth Advocate Program, served as president of St. John’s Children’s Home and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Wheeling, and served as a past commanding officer. of the American Legion. Message 1.
Other 2022 State of the City winners include:
– David H. McKinley, founder of Wheeling-based investment firm McKinley Carter Wealth Services and head of McKinley Architecture and Engineering, for his strategic vision and strong commitment to Wheeling’s future. The mayor also highlighted McKinley’s leadership in bringing an $8 million renovation to the historic Fort Henry Club.
– Dean Connors, local businessman and landowner whose investments have transformed several downtown period buildings into beautifully renovated and fully occupied multi-level structures. He also helped breathe new life and dynamism into The Plaza on Market.
Betsy Sweeny, Director of Heritage Programming for Wheeling Heritage, who brought Wheeling national attention as the face of a new generation invested in renovating historic buildings. She was applauded for “framing the story of Wheeling’s potential in a way that is accessible to people around the world”.
– Bill Cornforth, longtime teacher, director of the high school drama program, and speech team coach. Cornforth was recognized for leading Wheeling Park High School’s speaking team to 42 consecutive state championships and for earning honorable mention among theater educators across the country last year after former students submitted his name for a Tony Award.
– Dr. William Mercer, family physician who not only served as a former health officer for the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department, but also helped create Project HOPE, providing medical assistance to the local population without shelter. He was also credited with creating the Joe Too Cool to Smoke program to educate young people about the harmful effects of smoking.
– Loma Nevels, retired Assistant Superintendent of the Wheeling Water Department, who blazed a trail in the city as Wheeling’s first female and first black supervisor at any level of city government. Nevels, who was unable to attend Tuesday’s event, is currently chairman of the House of Carpenter board and is an active member of the Wheeling Human Rights Commission.