Wheeling City Council Holds June 6 Meeting
Several proclamations were offered at the Council's first meeting on June, including 'Juneteenth Independence Day' and 'Pride in Wheeling Day.' Several ordinances were approved, and over 30 proposed.
The Wheeling City Council met for ‘business-as-usual’ on June 6, in contrast to a packed, at times raucous, meeting held on May 16. Today, multiple proclamations were given by the mayor, over 35 new ordinances were announced, and several members of the public addressed the council. Councilor Ben Seidler, Ward 2, and Councilor Dave Palmer, Ward 6, were absent from the meeting.
The Council’s Public Works Committee, chaired by Councilor Jerry Sklavounakis, Ward 4, met briefly before the meeting, discussing tens of millions of dollars in projects affecting water and sewer systems, as well as paving, the Streetscape project, and the upcoming closure of the Washington Ave bridge in Woodsdale. Click here for a more detailed look at the committee meeting.
Mayor Glenn Elliott, during the Mayor’s Report, reminded citizens about the upcoming State of the City address on July 25 to be held at the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack. The event will be free and open to the public. Guests can reserve a ticket for lunch at a cost of $15, and should reach out to City Clerk Jessica Zalenski to confirm their reservation.
Mayor Elliott also recognized the Hall of Fame induction taking place at 6 PM on Saturday, June 10, at the WesBanco Arena, encouraging residents to attend. Vice Mayor Chad Thalman, Ward 1, will address the inductees and their families. Some of the inductees include architect Edward Franzheim, philanthropist Mary Ann Hess, Reverend James O’Brien, and musician Chickie Williams, among others.
Splash pads became a point of contention for a second straight meeting after Mayor Elliott had two ordinances related to their construction to the June 6 agenda. Controversy started during the May 16 Council meeting when Councilor Palmer, Ward 6, called into question the legality of their inclusion on that agenda, citing procedural issues related to their recommendation by the Health and Recreation Committee.
The Intelligencer ran a story about the addition of splash pads to the June 6 agenda, citing the controversy mentioned above. Mayor Elliott made clear procedures were followed this time around, but that he would gladly table the motions. When the three ordinances related to splash pads in Warwood and outside the WesBanco building came up for a vote they were, indeed, tabled on a voice vote.
Three proclamations were delivered by Mayor Elliott;
The Month of June was proclaimed ‘Alzheimers and Brain Awareness Month.’ Former President Ronald Reagan first recognized June in this way in 1983. Every 65 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimers, or another type of dementia. Mayor Elliott encouraged citizens to learn more about the disease, and recognized caregivers who support those diagnosed with it.
Friday, June 9, was proclaimed ‘Pride in Wheeling Day,’ the seventh year Wheeling has done so. This day coincides with an event hosted by Orrick to celebrate LGBTQ+ people and diversity in Wheeling. Citizens are encouraged to volunteer on June 9 from 8 AM to 5 PM at the Heritage Port, focusing on beautifying the Heritage Trail.
June 19 was proclaimed ‘Juneteenth Independence Day’ in honor of Juneteenth. Mayor Elliott spoke of the history of the commemoration, remembering the official end of slavery in 1865 in Texas. Since 2019 the City of Wheeling has made this declaration, and the federal government and State of West Virginia have honored Juneteenth since 2021. Elliott encouraged citizens to take part in a ceremony to be held at the area where slaves were once sold, on the corner of 10th and Market Streets on June 19 at 6 PM.
The Wheeling City Council held votes by voice today due to an issue with the voting machines. All five ordinances from the Council’s May 16 meeting were approved, including the construction of a retaining wall for the new Wheeling Fire Department Headquarters, the demolition of the Center Wheeling Parking Garage, funding for repairs to playgrounds in Elm Terrace, Clator, and South Wheeling, and the construction of an archway for Heritage Port.
Speaking about the new archway slated for construction at 12th and Water Streets, Mayor Elliott commended city staff for collaborating with contractors to create the project. Elliott said Heritage Port needed a placemaking sign to bring attention to the area.
Remarks from Members of Council
Each meeting, members of Council are given the opportunity to give remarks. Councilor Sklavounakis, Ward 4, Councilor Thorngate, Ward 5, and Vice Mayor Thalman, Ward 1, each declined the opportunity. The Hudson Household Editorial considers the refusal to provide remarks a disservice to the people of Wheeling.
Councilor Rosemary Ketchum, Ward 3, gave remarks. She recognized Appalachian Outreach for opening a store in South Wheeling at 39th and Wood St, commending the organization for their work in providing natural disaster relief across the state of West Virginia.
Ketchum encouraged citizens to fill out a survey regarding the Clay School’s future. The building has sat vacant for decades, but recently saw money approved by the Council to hire a developer to advise on what to do with the structure. The survey can be found on the city’s website and is open until June 30.
Ketchum mentioned the upcoming Arts Fest to take place on August 5. This is the first Arts festival since pre-pandemic. Ketchum said the event is looking for vendors, saying those interested should fill out an application on the city government website or reach out to the Arts and Cultural Commission at [email protected]
Ketchum ended by announcing her office hours for June 13 at the Centre Market from 11 to 1. Ketchum frequently hosts these office hours for citizens in Wheeling to come ask questions about Ward 3 or about the city.
City Manager’s Report
City Manager Robert Herron announced during his report that the City-County Building will be closed on June 19 in observation of Juneteenth, and on June 20 in observation of West Virginia Day. Because of these holidays the next City Council meeting will take place on Wednesday, June 21.
Councilor Ketchum asked City Manager Herron if the relocation of the OVRTA bus station from in front of the Robert C Byrd Intermodal on Main St to behind the Intermodal on Nailers Way was permanent or due to the Streetscape. Herron said both, adding that the construction of temporary shelters would occur soon.
Mayor Elliott asked City Manager Herron for an update on hiring a new financial director for the city. Herron noted the position is a Council appointed one, but that he had a candidate in mind to be recommended to the City Council.
Thirty-five ordinances were introduced, including a zoning change for 108 South Huron St from residential to commercial for Smoker Friendly to build a parking lot, a lien on 2419 Jacob St after the structure was demolished, a $4.1 million contract to replace the sewer system on GC&P Road, a $441,000 contract with Saffo Contractors of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to paint the Tunnel Green, funding for the July 4 fireworks show partially paid by the coal severance tax, and funds for the Northern Panhandle Conservation District.
Fourteen ordinances related to the acquisition of various chemicals were consolidated and appear to be for the Water Pollution Control Division. Chemicals include sodium bisulfate, polydyne polymer, potassium permanganate, among others. A full list of ordinances related to the WPCD can be found on the agenda for the meeting. (Original Propositions #7 through #20)
Eleven ordinances related to facade grant applications were consolidated and approved by voice vote. These loans range from $5,000 to $15,000, and relate to a program offered by the City of Wheeling to help building owners repair their historic facades. A full list of properties approved for the facade loan program can be found on the agenda for the meeting. (Original Propositions #25 through #35)
Those Wishing to be Heard
The public comment period opened with four people signed up to speak. Each speaker is given three minutes to address the Council, to the chagrin of some.
Ms Nolin described herself as a healthcare professional in the City of Wheeling for 50 years before making claims about an ‘invasion’ of what she called ‘illegals’ from the northern and southern borders. She also spoke against electronic voting machines, saying election integrity is an issue for her.
Ms Jones represented the YWCA during her comments. Jones said the Council had approved funding for the YWCA in October or November of 2022, but that the organization returned the money when the project couldn’t be completed. Jones requested the funding be re-approved, asking the Council to put the item on their agenda for June 21.
Ms Cadar spoke about paving done in the alleyway behind her house, a job she claimed had not been done well. She said debris was left in the alley, saying when the street sweeper came by the debris caused a cloud of dust to blanket her property. Cadar warned that buildings along the alley would flood, citing a lack of drains.
Ms Daniels spoke about a vacant property neighboring her house, saying she has maintained the lot for eight years. Daniels said she has tried to purchase the lot, but the city claimed to be unable to track down the current owner. She spoke of grass many feet tall, and racoons that live in the area. Daniels said she spoke to Councilor Seidler, who told her he would handle it but that nothing had been done.
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