Wheeling City Council Boasts Buttigieg Meeting
The Wheeling City Council met for their regularly business meeting Tuesday, hours after Secretary Buttigieg visited the city. Funding was approved for a playground and ambulances through ARPA
Spirits were high in the City Council chambers after a member of the Biden administration visited Wheeling this morning—the highest ranking official to do so. Mayor Glenn Elliott called the meeting with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg “wonderful” and “productive.”
“This was a great opportunity to showcase all the private and public funding,” in downtown Wheeling, Elliott said of the trip during the Council’s regular meeting. “It’s a great honor.”
Buttigieg toured the Wheeling Streetscape project, affecting the downtown neighborhood along Market and Main St. The project, a state Department of Transportation led effort, has been partially funded through the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress.
Buttigieg, who formally served as the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said Wheeling reminded him of his home. “This administration will serve every kind of community,” Buttigieg said during his visit.
Before the City Council meeting, the bodies Finance Committee met to discuss June’s financial statement.
City Manager Robert Herron addressed the Committee. He announced that $1,060,000 in ‘unencumbered’ funding has been identified, leaving it up to Council to appropriate.
Herron recommended the funding go toward 3% pay raises for city employees, which will cost $480,000. Herron said $220,000 of the funding would be offset by savings associated with the city’s health care plan.
Herron also recommended $800,000 be set aside for paving, which Vice Mayor Thalman requested half, or $400,000, go specifically towards alley paving.
The Finance Committee approved both of these proposals, to be heard by Wheeling.
Councilor Jerry Sklavounakis, Ward 4, was absent during the meeting.
Those present during the meeting supported an agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding the Community Development Block Grant, a $385,214 grant. FY 2023-24’s grant agreement sees Wheeling receive $30,000 more that the previous year.
Four organizations in the city–Seeing Hand Association, Greater Wheeling Soup Kitchen, Family Service of the Upper Ohio Valley, and Wheeling Health Right, had their grant requests from the CDBG program approved.
All eyes were on the council as they earmarked some of the last ARPA-related projects. Under consideration was $201,071 for Vineyard Church of Wheeling to build a playground at Market Plaza in downtown Wheeling.
The project, which would be used exclusively by a private daycare during their business hours, would help provide child care services to a city and state with waitlists over a year long.
The Council, which has spoken in favor of the project for months, approved funding unanimously.
Mayor Elliott spoke about ARPA, saying the letter of the law included child care and outdoor activities. “This project has both,” Elliott said of the Market Plaza playground.
Councilors heard new business, of which two items received votes.
The first new resolution approved by the Council saw $350,000 in ARPA money approved for Wheeling Fire Department to purchase new ambulances. This was discussed more fully during their July 5 Finance Committee.
The Council also moved to relocate the August 1 City Council meeting to Oglebay Resort at Wilson Lodge, to coincide with the West Virginia Municipal League’s Conference. The meeting will likely be attended by representatives from municipalities across the state.
Mayor Glenn Elliott invited residents to attend his seventh and final State of the City address scheduled for July 25, 12:00, at the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.
Councilor Ty Thorngate, Ward 5, wished the Italian Heritage Festival, July 28-30, and the Grecian Festival, July 27-30, good luck. These are two of the largest events in Wheeling.
Vice Mayor Chad Thalman spoke of his support for the Vineyard Church proposal for a playground at Market Plaza, thanking his colleagues for their movement on the project.
Councilor Rosemary Ketchum, Ward 3, congratulated the Wheeling Parks and Recreation Department for a recent $72,000 grant for youth mentoring known as, “Game Changers.”
The grant, through the National Parks and Recreation Association, will support children in homework, physical and mental health, laundry, budgeting, among other skills training.
Three members of the public addressed the Council this evening.
Two, Sean Duffy and Sally Beaty, asked the city to rename the ballfield at Garden Park in Warwood in honor of Chuck Howley. Howley, a Warwood native and former Dallas Cowboys linebacker, was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 2023.
Connie Cain, Wheeling resident, said she often came to tell the Council what they were doing wrong, but instead came to tell them they were doing good. Cain, who announced her run for Ward 3 on the Council, said she hopes to continue the work if she were elected in 2024.
It is unclear if Cain has filed for precanidacy.
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