For the seventh and final time since he created the event, Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie will present his “State of the City” address before more than 250 local citizens, business owners, and community leaders in the “Showroom” at Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino.
The luncheon is scheduled for noon, and the doors will open beginning at 11:30 a.m. Attendees have the option to purchase a lunch ticket for $10 at the door. The buffet will include soup, various salads, a sandwich bar, and dessert table. Those who wish to attend only the speech portion of the event are more than welcome to do so free of charge.
“This is an event that has grown each year, and it’s great to see that so many of our local residents are so interested in their city,” said McKenzie, a West Virginia senator for 12 years before he was elected mayor in 2008. “This event gives us all a chance to reflect on what has been accomplished in the past, to take an honest look into the future, and to honor several members of our community for what they have done to make our city a better place to live.
“There were a lot of challenges in front of us nearly eight years ago, but a great team of council members, city administrators and staff members, and local residents did not shy away from them,” the mayor continued. “The goal has been to move the city forward, and I believe we’ve accomplished that because it has been a very inclusive process.”
According to Allison Skibo, the city’s marketing specialist, Mayor McKenzie is expected to reflect on his tenure with the City of Wheeling. Under McKenzie’s leadership, the city of Wheeling has developed an ambitious growth strategy. City officials focused on driving economic development and investment by reducing and eliminating business and occupation taxes, fees, and licenses for Wheeling businesses. Additionally, they aggressively addressed dilapidated and vacant structures and took necessary steps to right-size the city’s workforce. In 2015, as a result of reducing the tax burden and operating more efficiently, the city was able to invest a record amount into roads and infrastructure throughout the city, Skibo explained.
Mayor McKenzie said he will continue his tradition of honoring several individuals and businesses that have played a part in the city’s progress during the past year.
“That’s the best part for me,” he said. “City government can only be successful when members of the community are engaged, and that is certainly the situation here in Wheeling right now. Those people deserve to be recognized and that’s why I enjoy doing that.
“Each year we have honored a local resident with the city’s ‘Community Spirit Award,’ and I’ll have the opportunity to do that one more time,” he said. “It is my hope that our city’s next mayor will continue these traditions because I believe it’s been very well received by our residents.
The mayor’s position in Wheeling is limited to two consecutive terms, so McKenzie’s last day in office is June 30, 2016, and that is why, Skibo reported, he also will also focus on his hope and vision for the future of Wheeling beyond his tenure. That vision includes more housing, further development of the downtown area, and continued partnerships with key organizations from throughout the city.
Following the event, the full text of the speech will be available here on Weelunk, and staff members and students from West Liberty University’s television station, Channel 14 on Comcast, will record and re-play the event later today.
(Photos by Steve Novotney)