Wheeling’s Online Magazine

Welcome to Weelunk.

Weelunk is a nonprofit online magazine that shares Wheeling WV’s story.

What is Wheeling’s story? It depends on who you ask. That’s why Weelunk is created by the community, for the community. Weelunk is made up of a variety of community writers, each with their own perspectives. Our goal is to offer our readers stories and content that allows them to see themselves, and feel connected to our collective culture.

We want to encourage conversation and engage everyone in what’s happening here. We want you to feel connected to Wheeling – whether you’ve lived here all your life, moved away, or you haven’t even visited yet.

But what is a “Weelunk” you ask?

Both “Wheeling” and “Weelunk” are words believed to be derived from a Native American phrase “place of the skull” or “place of the head”. The folklore surrounding this phrase suggests that a skull was used as a geographic marker, claiming the territory that today we recognize as downtown Wheeling.

The folklore surrounding this skull is problematic, and it is worth noting that it is also an undocumented story. However, the root of both “wee” or “whee” remain as evidence of the language and culture of the original inhabitants of our area. As an organization, we choose to maintain the brand Weelunk so as not to erase what little evidence of indigenous stewardship we have.

The line between cultural appreciation and appropriation is a difficult one, and we hope that our content and approach helps all of us become a more inclusive and thoughtful community.

“Do something.” It’s more than just our motto. It’s a reminder to all of us that we can spark positive action in our community and beyond. We hope Weelunk inspires you to do something. Share your perspective. Get out and experience what there is to offer. Be a part of the Weelunk community.

Weelunk is a part of Wheeling Heritage — a nonprofit with the mission to serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of Wheeling. Part of that mission is telling Wheeling’s story, both past and present.


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Are you interested in writing for Weelunk? Do you have an event or topic you’d like to see covered? Follow the link below to learn more!

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If you’re interested in advertising on Weelunk, follow the below link to view some of the ways we can help share your story, or email apanas@wheelingheritage.org for more info.

Our Staff

Alex Panas

Alex Panas
Program Manager

Betsy Sweeny

Betsy Sweeny
Director of Heritage Programming

Johnathon Porter

Johnathon Porter
Digital Content Specialist

Dillon Richardson

Dillon Richardson
Digital Content Specialist

Writers

Authors

  • Adam Payne

    Adam Payne is a Wheeling native and the editor in chief of YNST (You're Not Seeing Things) Magazine. He is a lover of Thai food and all things arts and culture with a MS in Digital Marketing Communications, BS in Journalism and BFA in acting from West Virginia University.

  • Alex Panas

    Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise three cats and four spunky backyard chickens.

  • Anna Cipoletti

    Raised in Wellsburg, West Virginia, Anna Cipoletti is a proud alumna of Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, West Liberty University and Kent State University. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from West Liberty in 2014 and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Kent State in 2017. Anna has made a career out of a lifelong love of books and works full-time at Bethany College as a librarian and parttime as a bookseller and book reviewer. She resides in Beech Bottom with her sister and two Siamese cats. A nature enthusiast, Anna often spends her free time visiting one of West Virginia’s many beautiful parks or kayaking along Buffalo Creek.

  • Annalese Aderholt

    Annalese Aderholt is an aspiring educator and community leader interning at Wheeling Heritage for the summer. She is a graduate of Wheeling Park and is entering her senior year at Grove City College, studying Christian theology and history. Annalese leads Young Life, drives for DoorDash, and coaches soccer. After graduation, Annalese plans to get married and make her way back to Wheeling.

  • Ellen Brafford McCroskey

    Ellen Brafford McCroskey is a lifelong resident of Wheeling and a proud graduate of Wheeling Park High School, where she discovered her love of writing as a member of the yearbook staff. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management at the former Wheeling Jesuit College. By day, she utilizes that degree at the international law firm where she is employed. After work, you can find her relaxing with family, friends, and her clowder of cats.

  • Emma Wiley

    Emma Wiley, originally from Falls Church, Virginia, was a former AmeriCorps member with Wheeling Heritage. Emma has a B.A. in history from Vassar College and is passionate about connecting communities, history, and social justice.

  • Jeremy Morris
  • Justice Hudson

    Justice Hudson is an AmeriCorps volunteer and citizen journalist originally from Saint Albans, West Virginia, and has lived in Wheeling since January 2020. He studied history and women and gender studies at West Virginia University and has worked in farming and community education since moving to the Friendly City. In February 2023 he began writing as a folk reporter independently for the Hudson Household Editorial and for organizations including Mustard Seed Mountain, BlackByGod: The West Virginian, and Weelunk.

  • Karin Butyn

    Karin Butyn was born and raised in Wheeling, WV. A graduate of Wheeling Central, West Liberty University, and Wheeling Jesuit University, Karin spent nearly a decade teaching both English as Second Language and Reading Language Arts. She is currently in her third year as an Assistant Principal for Ohio County Schools. In her free time, she enjoys running and music. She and her husband, TJ, are raising their young sons, Finn and Watson, in Warwood.

  • Kate Wietor

    Kate Wietor is currently studying Architectural History and Historic Preservation at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. She spent one glorious year in Wheeling serving as the 2021-22 AmeriCorps member at Wheeling Heritage. Since moving back to Virginia, she’s still looking for an antique store that rivals Sibs.

  • Kelly Strautmann

    Kelly Strautmann lives out in the country of Cameron, West Virginia, and proofreads in the city of Wheeling. She has a supportive and talented husband and two ridiculous daughters who keep her busy and full of love.

  • Lindsay Ammirante

    Lindsay Ammirante is a Wheeling native but currently resides in Columbus, Ohio. Born and raised in Elm Grove, she attended St. Vincent de Paul School and then Wheeling Central Catholic High School. She graduated from Bethany College with a bachelor’s degree in Education and is in her 16th year as a Special Education teacher. She also is a full time student at The Ohio State University, pursuing her PhD in Special Education. Her breaks and most weekends are spent in Wheeling with her nephews, Milano and Sorrento, and the rest of her family and friends.

  • Makayla Carney

    Makayla Carney, a Wheeling native, is the 2023-2024 AmeriCorps member for Wheeling Heritage, where she will get to write all about the history and culture of her hometown. She has a B.F.A. in Film and Television from DePaul University in Chicago. She adores all kinds of art, a lavender latte, and the occasional performance on the Towngate Theatre stage.

  • Matthew Rafa

    Matt Rafa is a pharmacist serving the Warwood community for 11 years. He is the current President of the West Virginia Pharmacy Association, a founder of Grow Warwood Pride, and Co-Market Chair of the Warwood Farmers Market. Matt has dedicated over 25 years to volunteerism in his hometown of Warwood and Wheeling.

  • Melissa Rebholz

    Melissa Rebholz was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, to a Sicilian/German family. She grew up in a household revolving around food. In 2007, a summer of volunteering for GrowNYC (New York City's Farmer’s Markets) led her down the path to culinary school at The Natural Gourmet Institute and 10 subsequent years of farming from Long Island to Sonoma to Tennessee. Working simultaneously in kitchens to support her farming habit, Melissa migrated back to the rustbelt in October of 2019 to help Grow Ohio Valley open the Public Market as the head chef. Her hobbies include foraging, baking, dinner parties and exploring her new home of Wheeling, West Virginia.

  • Natalie Kovacs

    Natalie Kovacs is the retail manager at the Wheeling Artisan Center Shop and an illustrator under the moniker Shapelessflame. She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a minor in graphic art from Carlow University of Pittsburgh. In her spare time, you’ll find her frolicking through the woods, reading and collecting countless books, crowd surfing at concerts, or testing out new vegetarian recipes. She lives in Bethesda, OH with her husband, son, and their four mischievous cats.

  • Phyllis Sigal
  • Provided
  • Rosemary Ketchum

    Rosemary Ketchum is a member of the Wheeling City Council representing Ward 3. Ketchum also serves as the Chief Facilitator of the public health coalition “Edible Mountain”. Rosemary’s work in community organizing and politics has been featured on TODAY, MSNBC, CBS, and CNN.

  • Ryan Stanton

    Ryan Stanton is a 2002 graduate of Wheeling Park High School. In 2006 he graduated from West Liberty State College with a bachelor’s degree in history and later earned a master’s degree in social studies education from West Virginia University. For 13 years, Ryan has been a social studies teacher at Wheeling Park High School where he teaches AP U.S. government and politics and the history of Wheeling.

  • Sarah Clark

    Sarah Clark works full-time at an international law firm. A Wheeling resident, she earned her bachelor's from Ohio University and her master’s in Communication Studies from Ball State University, where she developed her passion for storytelling and skills in project management. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her Dalmatian, Anakin Skywalker, and dabbling in all things poetry and performance.

  • Weelunk Staff
  • Wheeling CVB

    The Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau is Ohio County's tourism development authority chartered by state and local government in partnership with the private sector. Its mission is to attract and serve visitors to the city and county of Wheeling by reinvesting a portion of the visitor-paid room occupancy tax to market the area. The goal is to fuel the local business climate, expand the tax base and improve the quality of life for Wheeling area residents.

  • Wheeling Heritage Media

    Wheeling Heritage Media, a subsidiary of Wheeling Heritage, creates a variety of multimedia experiences in order to tell Wheeling’s story, both past and present. Through videos, podcasts, photos, and more, they create content and provide digital access to help more people feel connected and engaged with this vibrant, growing community.

  • Wheeling Heritage Staff

    • Wheeling Heritage staff members Jake Dougherty, Alex Weld, Travis Henline, Chris Villamagna and Betsy Sweeny contributed to this story.

  • Will Wallace

    A true son of Wheeling, Will was born at Wheeling Hospital on a late summer’s day in August 1988. Since then he has traveled the world, started a business, played in a state championship basketball game, opened an art gallery and plays bass in a band. A graduate of Bishop Donahue Memorial High School (never forget) and West Virginia University, Will has decided that this somehow allows him to freelance for Weelunk. In his free time, he co-hosts a podcast called Appalachian Sound and Color, where he interviews artists living throughout the Appalachian Mountains. You can listen to it where you find podcasts or here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1271648.