Editor’s note: Our series, “Wheeling@Work,” is an effort to provide readers with insight and information into our city government, highlighting the personalities, programs and processes at work within the City of Wheeling. It is our hope that readers gain a greater understanding of the opportunities and challenges we face in growing a Wheeling that is more forward-thinking and dynamic. Today’s story features Wendy Scatterday who represents Ward 4.
Some leaders are created, and others are born. Wendy Scatterday, Wheeling City Councilor for Ward 4, was born into a legacy of leadership. “Service above self” is a family value that she learned by her parents’ and grandparents’ example at a very young age.
“I come by it honest,” she smiles when asked what motivates her to be a community leader.
FOLLOWING IN HER FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS
The Scatterday surname is synonymous with community service in the Wheeling area. Scatterday’s father, the late Robert “Scat” Scatterday, was active in many local volunteer endeavors nearly until the time of his passing earlier this year. It’s apparent when talking to Scatterday that the loss of her beloved dad is a fresh wound that’s still healing.
“He always taught me that the world isn’t about ‘you,’” the younger Scatterday remembers fondly. “He encouraged all of his children to be ‘otherly.’” In her early life, being ‘otherly’ took the form of Girl Scouting. Scatterday was active in a troop in which her maternal grandmother sometimes volunteered. Later, being part of a church family nurtured the giving spirit sparked by Scouting.
Scatterday is a 1990 graduate of Wheeling Park High School. In 1995, she earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Planning. She resides in Woodsdale, and her mother lives nearby. She has extended family in Morgantown, Charleston and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Scatterday established her firm, Scatterday Architecture in 2013, after working for other firms in Wheeling, Pittsburgh and in the state of Connecticut. Being a business owner and project manager naturally groomed her for a position in city government. “Architecture is a field that involves coordinating the efforts of a team and communicating with clients, contractors and other parties. I’m used to dealing with ‘squirrels’ nests.’ It all makes for an easy transition to public service,” says Scatterday.
Her current public service initiatives include membership in the Vineyard church, serving on the board of the Greater Wheeling Homeless Coalition and working with the Faith Team of the Community Impact Coalition. Perhaps most notably, she is the first female, registered architect to serve on the West Virginia Board of Architects. Scatterday was appointed to the position in 2016 by then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. The Board of Architects is a statewide body that serves to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare by regulating the practice and licensing of architects. Although a female lay member has served on this board previously, Scatterday is the first female, registered architect to be appointed. She continues her service on the Board of Architects to this day.
Within city council, Scatterday serves on the Public Works committee, the Health and Recreation committee, the Planning Commission and the Hall of Fame committee. She has also served on the Wheeling Heritage board.
READY, SET, ACTIVATE
After returning to Wheeling and being active here in community leadership, Scatterday saw the opportunity to expand her efforts to local government service. Being involved and “activated” taught her a great deal about Ward 4 and Wheeling in general. Scatterday offers a very simple and specific word of advice to anyone who wants to excel in leadership or in any field, for that matter — listen. “Spend time listening,” she advises. “Don’t speak before you really listen.”
After spending time doing just that while working on other volunteer efforts, Scatterday made the decision to run for the Ward 4 council position, announcing her campaign an entire year before the election. She spent that year meeting the people of Ward 4, continuing her volunteer work and campaigning.
“I spent the months leading up to the election walking the ward, knocking on as many doors as possible in Woodsdale, Oglebay Park Estates, Leewood Park, Greggsville, Clator, Valley View and Morningside. And it was fantastic — an absolute joy!” exclaims Scatterday. “I really enjoyed meeting the residents of Ward 4 and getting to know their concerns.”
One thing she learned from listening was that many citizens were feeling disenfranchised with local government. “They felt that their needs and concerns were not being heard,” Scatterday states.
For that reason, one of Scatterday’s goals as councilor was to improve communication between residents and government leaders. “It’s all about customer service,” she says. Feedback she’s received indicates that she is meeting that goal. “I think people are now feeling more empowered,” she says. “I’m proud of the feedback I’ve gotten about that.”
She also cites the updating of the city’s web pages as something that the current administration has done to help improve communication with constituents. The Wheeling 311 page is another recent upgrade in customer service. On this page, residents can report non-emergency issues such as those with property maintenance or infrastructure and be assured that their request is sent directly to the appropriate department. “This avoids a council member acting as a ‘go-between,’” says Scatterday. “Sending requests through the 311 system will most likely result in a faster response.”
“I do enjoy serving my neighbors of Ward 4 and helping make Wheeling the best place it can be,” Scatterday says.
Will she run for Council again in 2020? “If the question is actually ‘Do you like serving enough to try again?,’ the answer is yes,” she tells Weelunk. “But I am willing to see what life is like at the beginning of 2020 when it’s time to decide. My answer is always that I do not project into the future.”
CONCERNS OF WARD 4
Scatterday tells Weelunk that Ward 4 is unique because it is the only ward in Wheeling that physically touches every other ward along its boundaries. However, the ward is quite similar to others where priorities for improvement are concerned. Playgrounds are always a primary concern for residents. Scatterday is pleased with the recent renovations at the Greggsville playground and says that the city is working on getting other playgrounds scheduled for replacement. She is hopeful that some, including the Pleasanton playground, may be completed this calendar year.
The Greggsville footbridge had been another concern for residents of that neighborhood. Scatterday was instrumental in helping to get that bridge replaced last fall. Though perhaps not as well-known as the Wheeling Jesuit footbridge, which was also recently replaced, the Greggsville bridge is just as significant to the areas it connects.
“Another big concern in Ward 4 is dilapidated properties,” says Scatterday. “Negligent or absent property owners negatively impact the community. It’s getting more difficult to motivate owners to take care of issues.” She says that our state’s legal system is biased toward property owners and that it is legally difficult to force owners to take necessary steps toward improving their properties. “Fines don’t do the trick anymore,” states Scatterday. “We do have the power to suspend drivers’ licenses, so the municipal judge is doing more of that. We have to find more ways to impact the status quo.”
STRONG NEIGHBORHOODS AND SCHOOLS EQUAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
While economic development is always a priority, Scatterday believes that Ward 4 is already experiencing such development in the form of strong neighborhoods and schools. She says that many neighborhoods within the ward are deeply rooted, having residents who have lived in the same area for many years or even multiple generations. These neighborhoods tend to have strong community involvement and support, and Scatterday believes that’s vital to economic development.
“People want to live in strong, involved neighborhoods with a great school system,” she says. She cites Woodsdale School as an example of an incredibly collaborative and engaged school community. In recent years, the school was in need of a new playground. Parents, teachers, students and neighbors came together to raise the necessary funds to get the state-of-the-art playground constructed. The school’s playground committee received a Commendation for Volunteer Services to the State of West Virginia from Governor Jim Justice and was also nominated for the 2018 Governor’s Service Award for their volunteer efforts.
Another issue affecting Ward 4 and all areas of the state is the opioid crisis. Scatterday shares that in August 2016, she read that the city of Huntington, West Virginia, suffered 28 opioid overdoses in a matter of a few hours on a single day. She says it was an eye-opening moment for her. Not only was she concerned about the crisis and the people it affected, but she also wondered if Wheeling was equipped to respond effectively if a similar tragic spike in overdoses were to occur here. She met with local fire and police chiefs as well as with William Ihlenfeld, who at that time was the U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.
These meetings resulted in a mock exercise to test Wheeling’s and Ohio County’s readiness for a disaster of this nature. Over 70 first responders participated and helped to uncover inefficiencies in the response system, which have now been addressed and remedied. In addition, this exercise also resulted in Wheeling becoming part of the Overdose Detecting Mapping Application Program (ODMAP). According to the website, ODMAP provides almost real-time overdose surveillance data across Wheeling and other areas to support public safety efforts to mobilize an immediate response to a spike in overdose events.
As she learned more about the nationwide opioid crisis, Scatterday was introduced by Ihlenfeld to the community outreach of Arlington and East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The two communities had become well-known for their work on recovery efforts. East Bridgewater’s EB Hope “recovery fairs” were becoming a vital go-to resource where families of those struggling with substance use disorder or those ready to take a step toward recovery could find the necessary resources to make a plan for achieving sobriety.
The City of Wheeling recently announced that they will follow East Bridgewater’s lead and offer Discover Recovery, an open house where people can learn more about local recovery resources. Discover Recovery is a joint effort of the City, the Community Impact Coalition, WTRF and the United Way. Over 30 resources with a direct link to recovery services will be participating. The event will be held from 3-7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at WesBanco Arena.
Believe it or not, Scatterday insists that she is not at all politically inclined. She says that her views on political issues are wide and varied and that she is a registered Independent voter by choice. She agreed to run for council only because the position is local, non-partisan and mostly non-political. You will never change another person’s mind by forcing your own opinions on them, Scatterday believes. She says that helping others reach their own conclusions and being respectful of others’ opinions are both part of being responsible citizens. “You cannot make decisions for others. It’s my job to make sure they have the information needed to empower them to make their own choices,” she states.
Scatterday also believes that while differences of opinion will always exist, it is possible to disagree with others while still maintaining civility. “Subtlety and gentleness are both lost arts,” she says. And both are necessary skills, particularly in today’s deeply divided political climate. But according to Scatterday, a person’s personal beliefs do not have to impact his or her ability to be an effective, caring leader.
“People who consider running for office should know that it is possible to set healthy boundaries and keep your personal, professional and public lives separate,” Scatterday says. “More regular, non-partisan people need to step forward to serve — politically, on local boards, in churches. Just be active in service to others.” She believes that people of all ages should “activate.”
“Be active in service,” she invites others. “Volunteer to help someone, either individually or with a larger group.”
HAVE A CONCERN OR SUGGESTION?
In addition to the City’s website, the 311 site for non-urgent issues and the 9-1-1 system for emergencies, there are also individual Ward social media pages where residents can connect with their neighbors. If you would like to contact Scatterday personally, she can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 304-234-6401.
Ward 4 also hosts monthly Neighborhood and Crime Watch meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Temple Shalom on Bethany Pike. Both Ward 4 residents and the public at large are welcome to attend. During these meetings, a representative of the Wheeling Police Department addresses any safety concerns of the group. This is then followed by an open forum question-and-answer session regarding City of Wheeling and Ward 4 issues.
FINAL WORDS OF WISDOM
Though Scatterday knew she wanted to be an architect at a very early age, she knows not all young people have mapped out the path they want to follow. Today more so than in previous generations, young people are sometimes taking longer to decide how they plan to spend their adult lives.
Scatterday offers some advice to those who are searching for clarity and meaning. “Activate while you figure it out. Humbly make a difference for others; don’t just be stagnant and rudderless. Your greater community needs your service. While you’re helping someone else, you may just find your passion.”
• A lifelong Wheeling resident, Ellen Brafford McCroskey is a proud graduate of Wheeling Park High School and the former Wheeling Jesuit College. By day, she works for an international law firm; by night, (and often on her lunch breaks and weekends) she enjoys moonlighting as a part-time writer. Please note that the views expressed in her writing are solely her own and do not necessarily reflect those of anyone else, including her full-time employer. Through her writing, Ellen aims to enlighten others on causes close to her heart, particularly addiction, recovery and equal rights. She and her husband Doug reside in Warwood with their clowder of rescued cats, each of whom is a direct consequence of his job as the Ohio County Dog Warden. Their family includes four adult children, their spouses and several grandkids.