Wheeling City Council Holds Third Meeting of The Year
The Wheeling City Council hosted its third meeting on February 7, 2023, passing multiple ordinances and updating constituents about projects and events happening in Wheeling.
Photo credited to Michelle Krone
The Wheeling City Council held its third meeting of the year at 5:30 PM on Tuesday, February 7, 2023. Meetings are held on the first and third Tuesday of the month in the Wheeling City Council Chambers, located at 1500 Chapline St, Room 103.
Councilwoman Rosemary Ketchum opened the meeting with a prayer followed by a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The City Clerk Brenda Delbert called the roll, and present were Mayor Glenn Elliot, Vice Mayor and 1st Ward Rep Chad Thalman, 2nd Ward Rep Ben Seidler, 3rd Ward Rep Rosemary Ketchum, 4th Ward Rep Jerry Sklavounakis, 5th Ward Rep Ty Thorngate, and City Manager Robert Herron. 6th Ward Rep David Palmer was absent. A quorum was reached. The audience included some 20 to 30 individuals including community members, city government officials, and media.
Mayor Glenn Elliot gave a brief mayoral report recognizing Homeless Liaison Melissa Adams saying he commended her for the consensus building she has done over the last year. City Clerk Brenda Delbert gave a brief clerk’s report noting an application to create a private club, Osiris Shrine Center, had been submitted.
Unfinished business from the City Council’s January 17 meeting included 3 ordinances which were discussed and voted on. The first ordinance under consideration, known as the “CROWN (or Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act,” would amend and re-enact Article 169 of the Wheeling Human Rights Commission to include “hair textures and protective hairstyles historically associated with a particular race” under the definition of “discrimination because of race,” and would define “protective hairstyles” as including, but not limited to, “hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.”
The public was given the chance to comment. Two individuals spoke in support and two individuals spoke in opposition. Former West Virginia State Senator Owens Brown spoke in support of adopting the ordinance, using photos of Albert Einstein’s ‘messy hair’ and actress Bo Derek from 1979 wearing braids to point out the racial disparity between hairstyles deemed appropriate and which are deemed inappropriate. Sen Owens said that the CROWN Act is about “preventing the abuse of power of one individual over another,” specifically men in positions of power. Another citizen, John, spoke in opposition saying businesses should have the right to fire any employee they deem unfit, citing hygiene and ‘unshaved and crappy haircuts.’
Mayor Glenn Elliot spoke after the public comments indicating, in his opinion, that the CROWN Act had received “a disproportionate amount of attention from some opposed to it,” later commenting this isn’t the “boogeyman that many people portray it as.” A vote was held and the ordinance was adopted unanimously, 6-0.
Two other ordinances up for consideration passed unanimously. The first authorizes the City Manager, Robert Herron, to negotiate the extension of service of “CT Consultants” with the Wheeling Water Pollution Control Division, through 2024, working to improve the city’s wastewater systems. The second authorizes City Manager Herron to spend $25,000 on Police Department Mobile Data Terminals and Drone PC, to be reimbursed by a federal program known as the COPS Technology Program, “Wheeling Law Enforcement Technology Program.”
Councilmembers gave their remarks:
Rep Thorngate announced the next Ward 5 meeting will take place at the Alpha Tavern, 6 PM Thursday, February 16.
Vice Mayor Thalman mentioned work being done in North Park by Frontier, citing complaints about damage to lawns and personal property, asking employees to keep residents in mind and for city employees to assist in fixing damages.
Rep Ketchum wished everyone a happy Black History Month and shared ways to celebrate in Wheeling. Show of Hands is highlighting black-owned businesses with their event at the Artisan Center, 6 PM Wednesday, February 8, with a $5 entrance fee. The Ohio County Public Library is celebrating black history with a series of lunches with books, visit ohiocountylibrary.org for more information. Rep Ketchum also encouraged residents to attend the local NAACP meetings. Rep Ketchum will be hosting an “office hours” style event at the Upper Market House in Center Market, 11 AM to 1 PM, Friday, February 10, to meet citizens and answer questions.
Rep Seidler voiced complaints made by constituents about the condition properties are left in after demolition, citing non-leveled surfaces and unfinished clean-up. City Manager Herron confirmed the city retains 10% of the contract, pending completion of all required tasks, and that city employees will be reviewing sites. Rep Seidler voiced concerns made by constituents for a need to provide pest-control services before properties are demolished to mitigate pest populations spreading in the area. City Manager Herron said they would add this provision to an upcoming contract with Asters Oilfield Services. Rep Seidler asked that a request be submitted to the WVDOT to repaint traffic lines at the intersection of 10th St and Market St, as well as Main St, citing residents expressing confusion at the current traffic patterns.
City Manager Robert Herron gave his remarks. The Police Department Headquarters and Fire Department Headquarters are on schedule to be opened by March 2023 and December 2023, respectively. The Wheeling Suspension Bridge Project is on schedule to be completed by the end of the year, or by early spring 2024. No word has been given on whether or not the Suspension Bridge will be opened to vehicular traffic. The Parking Structure project on the corner of 11th St and Market St is on schedule and the public was made aware of an upcoming 600 yd continuous concrete pour on the site which will take place next week and take 20 hours to complete. City Manager Herron announced that City Clerk Delbert has been promoted to Building and Planning Supervisor, and that the City Council is accepting resumes for consideration. The City Clerk is a council appointed position.
There were seven original propositions offered. Some of the ordinances proposed included expending $27,000 in funding for a Conceptual Redevelopment Plan for the Clay School, $112,000 in ARPA funding to demolish 12 buildings, and the creation of three “Combat Wounded Parking Zones'' in Downtown and East Wheeling. One original resolution was voted on, providing $20,000 in funding to the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation for an outdoor dining space in Downtown Wheeling. Rep Ben Seidler asked if this funding was on top of previously approved funding. It was confirmed that it was extra funding. The ordinance was adopted with a 5-1 vote- Rep Seidler voting in the negative.
The public was given the opportunity to speak. One concerned citizen, Virginia, spoke to the Council about a water shut-off notice for Windsor Manor due to the property owner’s nonpayment of the bill. She expressed concern for the residents, who include those that are low-income, elderly, experiencing mental or physical disabilities, formerly homeless, saying this was retraumatizing. Community leaders in a separate meeting admitted to receiving dozens of calls from concerned residents. Another citizen, Carlee, said that “America is on the brink of collapse,” expressed concern about a drag brunch event being held at Primanti Brothers in late February, and claimed Disney created an “anti-white character.”
After the City Council meeting I spoke to a woman about the City Council’s adoption of the CROWN Act. Choosing not to give her name, she said she didn’t believe the CROWN Act should be a big issue. She brought up comments made by a citizen, John, saying his mention of hygiene was uncalled for. She expressed feeling irritated saying it “showed how [racist] people are but don’t think they are.” She made a gesture to her hair, which is short, dark gray, and naturally-wavy, and smiled.
The Hudson Household Editorial is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.