Wheeling’s New Council Eager to Serve City

The duties of Wheeling’s mayor and six council members extend beyond attending two regular meetings per month, and those elected on May 10 to represent the city’s six wards have been appointed to committees, commissions, and boards by Mayor-elect Glenn Elliott.

The Friendly City’s new mayor and council members will take the oath of office on July 1 at the Capitol Theatre, and then they will preside over their initial regular meeting on July 5 at noon. The six council members also will sit on at least one commission or board.

“I met with each of the incoming council members individually without any pre-conceived ideas about who should serve on what committees,” Elliott explained. “I wanted to see what their interests were, and what turned out to be very fortuitous was the fact that each of them expressed interests in different things, and no two people were vying for the same committee.”

The council committees cover development, finance, public works, rules, public safety, health and recreation, and promotions and public relations. Each council member will serve as chair for one committee, and as vice and as a member to a pair of others.

“Dave Palmer expressed interest in chairing the public safety committee, and I can’t imagine anyone more qualified for that position considering all his years as a firefighter and a police officer in Wheeling,” Elliott said. “Wendy Scatterday talked a lot about our parks during her campaign, and she expressed interest in the health and recreation committee because she feels it has not been used to its full potential.

Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie presided over his final regular council meeting this past Tuesday.
Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie presided over his final regular council meeting this past Tuesday.

“With Chad Thalman serving as the finance manager for his family’s business, the finance committee made a lot of sense to both of us, and Ty Thorngate works in public relation, and he has a lot of ideas about how the city can expand its reach with a website re-development and more use of social media,” he continued. “Brian Wilson is very familiar with much of the city’s infrastructure, so the public works committee is a good fit for him, and with Ken Imer the only returning member of council, it made sense for him to chair the rules committee so he can be in the position to examine council policies and procedures.

“And I will chair the development committee, and with me will be Wendy Scatterday, and with Chad as my vice mayor he will have a seat at that table, too,” he added. “I believe the three of us will make a pretty good team in terms of looking at our development opportunities.”

Thalman, Wilson, Scatterday, and Thorgate shared their thoughts pertaining to goals while serving as committee chairs.

Finance – Chad Thalman

“The purpose of the Finance Committee is appropriation of property, sale of property, assessment for improvements, finance, ways and means, budget and expenditure recommendations. My goals are to make sure we are spending the taxpayers’ money in the most efficient way possible and to bring my business experience to the finance committee.”

Public Works – Brian Wilson

“My goal going into this position is to make sure I learn every aspect of the department and to ensure that it is operating at its highest potential. Whether or not people realize it, the public works department is the department that is primarily responsible for ‘quality of life’ issues. Sidewalks, streets, sewers, water lines, playgrounds, snow removal – it’s the stuff that is not glamorous, but it is essential to the functioning of a city. I hope to meet most or all of the employees and department heads of the various departments and gauge morale and efficiency. From there we will move forward and make sure that our public facilities are in the best condition they can be and that employees and residents alike are happy with our results.”

Mayor-elect Elliott hopes to engage the Friendly City's citizens in an effort to work toward progress during the next four years.
Mayor-elect Elliott hopes to engage the Friendly City’s citizens in an effort to work toward progress during the next four years.

Health and Recreation – Wendy Scatterday

“In addition to working with the Recreation Department, the committee also leads the guiding decisions for all parks, playgrounds, and matters as they relate to the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department. Our goal for the committee is to help facilitate better integration of ‘recreation’ activity into our daily lives in order to improve the health of our community and increase the economic, neighborhood benefit of our recreation assets. The programs offered by the Recreation Department are varied and utilized; however expanding those opportunities more widely and holistically is our hope.

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“Additionally, there are several facility upgrades that need to occur across the city in the 30-plus playgrounds/parks, swimming pools, and tennis courts locations, just to name a few. Having nearby places that are safe, clean, engaging, and fun to use by all ages and interests of our citizens is an important component of our overall health, well-being, and community cohesion. As a more long-term goal, growing the types of outdoor recreation opportunities the city has, such as developing Big Wheeling Creek and the Ohio River with greater access, has not only a health impact but also an economic and transportation benefit. Further augmenting the Heritage Trail bicycle and walking system will be a focus to improve those contributions in our daily lives as well.

“Each of these efforts will amplify and complement the rich history and value of Oglebay and Wheeling Parks as some of the most unique assets in our community.  None of these efforts, however, can be isolated from the other, or from the wider goal of helping the citizens of Wheeling and our children to be the healthiest we can be. The individual health of each of our neighbors is critical to having a vibrant and growing community with a vigorous economy.

“To that end, we cannot segregate the addiction issues gripping many families in our community. The extent that we can fully integrate and collaborate ‘health and recreation’ efforts into these concerns will determine our success.  Public, private, and corporate partnerships are essential to effect change in the health of our neighbors and our community on the whole. Therefore, the HEALTH and Recreation Committee will be innovating and seeking allies in action to broaden our goals, increase our positive impact, and improve the health, safety, well-being, and the quality of life of the citizens of Wheeling.  We hope everyone will engage, act, and assist with this imperative work.”

Elliott hopes the Heritage Trail system can be expanded so the Chapline Hill Tunnel can be utilized by local walkers, joggers, and bicyclists.
Elliott hopes the Heritage Trail system can be expanded so the Chapline Hill Tunnel can be utilized by local walkers, joggers, and bicyclists.

Promotions and Public Relations – Ty Thorgate

“The role of the Public Relations and Promotions Committee is to improve the quality of life of all residents and tourists and to promote the city as a business- friendly, recreation- and family-friendly destination.

“Over the next four years, I’d like to see the committee grow and evolve into a forward-thinking, digital, media-driven enhancement to the entire city. In 2016, digital content is king, and if you’re not creating as much content as possible, you’re missing out on endless possibilities to promote yourself to the world. Content is the ‘cover charge’ to relevance in our society, and if Wheeling wants to continue to grow and attract people to our city, we need to tell our story through our website, social media, live streaming, billboards and interstate signs, and email blasts.

“While it’s impossible to list all the goals I have for the committee without first meeting as a group, I feel confident in saying that the issues I’d like to tackle first are the following:

  • Redesigning the city’s website to a more user-friendly, responsive design
  • Creating Snapchat filters for some of the city’s most popular destinations (Heritage Port, Stones Plaza, Centre Market, Wesbanco Arena)
  • Coordinating monthly meetings and reopening the lines of communication between the committee, the city’s marketing department, Ohio County CBV, and the Chamber of Commerce
  • Increasing awareness of what our downtown has to offer through social media and live streaming
  • Improving communication between business owners and the city and discussing how the promotions committee can help with their ideas and promotional needs.”
The Wesbanco Arena expansion recently was unveiled and was funded by a half-percent sales tax.
The Wesbanco Arena expansion recently was unveiled and was funded by a half-percent sales tax.

Elliott also assigned each council member to sit on nine different boards and agencies connected to city council. Thalman, Wilson, and Scatterday will represent council on two each, and Thalman will represent council on the Centre Market Commission and the Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health. Scatterday will sit on both the city’s Planning Commission and on the Wheeling Hall of Fame Board. Wilson, already a member of the Historic Landmarks Commission, will transition into serving as the council representative, and he also will fill a board position for Wheeling Heritage.

The Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority governs the operations of both Wesbanco Arena and the Capitol Theatre, and Elliott appointed Palmer to represent city council. The Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority oversees the operation of bus and transportation services in several areas in Ohio and Marshall counties, and Imer soon will be the appointed council member. The Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission soon will see a new member in Thorngate.

“One of the primary goals is to engage the citizens of Wheeling as much as possible and I believe all of these appointments will go a long way with achieving that,” Elliott said. “I know we are all very much looking forward to the work that is in front of us, and I know everyone is anxious to get started.”

(Photos by Steve Novotney)