“Trust that meaningful conversation can change the world. Rely on human goodness. Stay together.” — Margaret Wheatley, writer, management consultant
And with those wise words, it was time to cut the ribbon at the Public Market in downtown Wheeling — a project that got off the ground thanks to a fateful conversation and lots of human goodness along the way.
Ken Peralta shared Wheatley’s quote with those gathered to celebrate the market’s official ribbon cutting Wednesday morning after he and fellow market co-founder Danny Swan thanked a myriad of people and organizations who contributed time, money, talents and hard work.
However, honored ribbon-cutter, Bill Hogan, got the lion’s share of heartfelt thanks.
Peralta shared a story, one he believes has never been told publicly.
It goes like this:
“It really was Bill that brought the forces together to create Grow Ohio Valley. I remember it was a sunny day, probably in November of 2013 … on the patio of Later Gator. I said, ‘Bill, I have two pages about Grow OV. Bill, I can’t do this. I give up.’
“And Bill said, ‘What do you need?’ I said, ‘I need Danny Swan or someone like him.’
“‘What else do you need?’
“‘I need your wife Susan Hogan or someone like her. I need Eriks Janelsins.’”
And Bill said, “‘Give me a couple weeks.’
“He went to Danny. ‘Danny, I want you to look up this word in the dictionary … Chutzpah. [It means supreme self-confidence.] I think he had a different approach to Susan.
“Lo and behold, three months later in March, we had Grow Ohio Valley off to the races. Thank you, Bill. Thank you for being here to cut our ribbon. I’m going to give you a hug.”
And then there were tears.
THE DELI AND CAFÉ
And then there were delicious snacks prepared for guests. The ribbon cutting also celebrated the official opening of the market deli and café. Chef Melissa Rebholz will be offering fresh wraps, baked goods, salads, sandwiches and soups — all created with locally sourced products for breakfast (7-10 a.m.) and lunch (11 a.m.-2 p.m.).
The Public Market is described by Swan as a “year-round consignment-style farmers’ market, natural foods market, and deli and café.”
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The market opened its doors to the public last month in a previously empty hallway on the street level of the Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Center, adjacent to the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau at 14th and Main streets.
“Part of Grow Ohio Valley’s long-term strategy is to return money to farmers by creating sales outlets while increasing healthy food access in the urban core of Wheeling and surrounding areas in OV. That’s what we’re all about,” Swan said.
During Wednesday’s festivities, Swan and Peralta sent out some special shoutouts to:
• Mayor Glenn Elliott, who, according to Peralta, “stuck his neck out for us and took a lot of flack for it.” Peralta said that Elliott took $30,000 and an empty building and leveraged it into $700,000;
• Eleanor Marshall, “who probably spent more hours on this project than any other person.” Marshall is special projects director for the market;
• Wheeling Convention and Vistors Bureau and Frank O’Brien. “It was Frank who said, ‘Why don’t you put the market in the empty hallway.’”
• Susan Hogan, president of Grow Ohio Valley;
• Wheeling Heritage, a partner since the beginning;
• Ohio Valley Regional Transit Authority, the building owner;
• The Benedum Foundation that funded a foodshed study in 2012, from which many of the ideas for Grow OV came;
• Schenk and Hess foundations;
• Public Market board of directors, market staff, market founding members, City of Wheeling staff, Wheeling City Council members, the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, Sisters of St. Joseph and Susan Hagan.
And here’s that quote again: “Trust that meaningful conversation can change the world. Rely on human goodness. Stay together.”
Truly it describes the journey of the Public Market from a tiny seed to stocked shelves, bushel baskets and coolers.
For more on the Public Market, read the Weelunk story that posted prior to the market’s opening last month.
• Having spent nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigalnowserves as Weelunk’s managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.