‘Fan Club’ Surprises Rodriguez

Former Wheeling Civic Center Manager Frank Rodriguez, who now resides in St. Clairsville, was pleasantly surprised last weekend when family, friends and former co-workers gathered to surprise him at Ye Olde Alpha restaurant in Wheeling to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Rodriguez served as Wheeling’s recreation manager in the early 1970s before being hired as the first civic center manager from the time it opened in 1977 until the mid-1980s. Later, he served as the assistant manager at the Charleston Civic Center for many years.

During the birthday celebration, Rodriguez was presented a basketball — which was signed by everyone in attendance — by long-time Dimmeydale neighborhood friends Tom and Kathy Burgoyne. Rodriguez played basketball for West Virginia University from 1947 to 1952.

Earlier, he was given a basketball for Father’s Day by his daughter, Kathy Rodriguez. That ball was signed by the 2017-18 WVU men’s basketball squad.

Rodriguez, a Beckley native, served in the Army after graduating from college and played basketball for the All-Army Team. Prior to working in Wheeling, he managed the Raleigh County Armory and played a major role in starting the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.

∫∫∫

It’s a summer of transition in the local historic and arts community.

Rebekah Karelis, who had served as Wheeling Heritage’s historian for 13 years, departed from the organization on Wednesday to pursue new avenues related to historic preservation.

She is joining her partner, Sarel Venter, in his business, Adventures in Elegance, a Wheeling firm that specializes in architectural restoration and building preservation.

Karelis, one of the founders of the Wheeling Young Preservationists, has spearheaded the efforts to restore monuments in the city-owned Mount Wood Cemetery.

Meanwhile, Sean Duffy has rejoined the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling and has returned to his former position as programming director. He also is continuing to serve as executive director of the Wheeling Academy of Law and Science (WALS) Foundation.

Erin Rothenbuehler, who had coordinated Lunch With Books and other adult programming at the library most recently, has been named as the library’s graphic designer and webmaster.

∫∫∫

In the weeks leading up to the decision to scrap a two-way traffic proposal in downtown Wheeling, I had the opportunity to observe traffic patterns and pedestrian measures in downtown Austin, Texas.

That booming big city has a number of one-way streets in its downtown area. Of particular interest, considering the issues that were being debated in Wheeling, I noticed that the one-way patterns didn’t seem to hinder the flow of traffic or impede pedestrians in Austin.

Speaking of pedestrians, city and state officials could take a few lessons from Austin’s example. In the downtown area there, pedestrian “walk” lights are incorporated in the traffic signal sequence at every intersection equipped with stop lights. As part of the normal circuit, all vehicular traffic comes to a stop and the “walking” human figure appears, followed by a second-by-second countdown to alert walkers of how much time they have to cross the street safely. Plus, Austin motorists seem to be conditioned to yield to pedestrians on streets without traffic signals.

The system of automatic “walk” lights for pedestrians is utilized in many cities. In this walker’s view, it should be implemented in downtown Wheeling.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net