Programs Aim To Help Storm Victims

Area residents have a “triple-treat” opportunity this week – to stand up and be counted, to enjoy what promises to be a fascinating program and to support tornado relief efforts.

When journalist Matthew Algeo appears at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling for a Lunch With Books program at noon Tuesday, June 7, patrons will be invited to donate money for tornado relief and purchase tickets for the West Virginia Tornado Relief concert, taking place at Grand Vue Park’s amphitheater in Moundsville from 1-6 p.m. Sunday, June 12. Matt Smith, one of the organizers of the concert, will be on hand at the library to explain the project.

Algeo’s program, “A Grover Cleveland Oddity,” relates to his new book, “The President Is a Sick Man.” I have started reading Algeo’s new work, and I find it to be a compelling account. The author first visited the library in 2009, when he offered a delightful and informative program on his book, “Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure.”

The author’s presentation on the Grover Cleveland book drew 116 people to the Kansas City Public Library recently. When Algeo appeared at the Ohio County Public Library on his Truman book tour two years ago, 85 people were in the audience.

Sean Duffy, programming coordinator at the Ohio County Public Library, is confident that area residents can top the 2009 attendance figure and can outnumber the Kansas City crowd. So, he has offered a challenge to local book lovers to attract a bigger audience for Tuesday’s event.

More signficantly, Duffy is encouraging library patrons to donate to the American Red Cross’ tornado relief fund. As an added incentive, donors at the library Tuesday will be eligible for a drawing to win prizes, including Lunch With Books souvenirs, a Steelers book and gift certificates for area restaurants. In addition, Duffy said Algeo has promised to donate $10 from every copy of “The President Is a Sick Man” that he sells at the program to West Virginia Tornado Relief.

In an e-mail message, Duffy related, “I have organized more than 225 programs in my five years at the library, but none have been more important than the one coming up on June 7 and I have never made an appeal quite like this. Even if you can stay only a short time, I encourage you to attend, bring a friend or two or three, be counted and prove that Wheeling supports its free library programs, and most importantly, give generously to help West Virginia Tornado Relief.”

Duffy commented, “The sudden, catastrophic losses experienced by victims in the South and Midwest (and now even in New England) are unimaginable. The efforts of Matt Smith and everyone involved with West Virginia Tornado Relief are commendable and must be supported. Please help as much as you can.”

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This past week, I had occasion to glance at a front-page article from the newspaper’s April 20, 1963 edition detailing the start of the West Virginia centennial observance in Wheeling. The state started its celebration on April 20 because it was the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the statehood bill, which was to take effect 60 days later, on June 20, 1863.

The centennial coverage noted that then-Gov. William Wallace Barron opened the festivities with a banquet at the McLure House in Wheeling. The article stated that the governor, during his remarks, advocated that the state purchase the former Custom House and the Medical Arts Building in Wheeling because of the sites’ historic significance.

Of course, the state eventually did acquire the Custom House, the state’s birthplace, which has been restored as West Virginia Independence Hall. The Medical Arts Building’s claim to fame was that the facility had been used as the first capitol of the new state. The state, however, never did acquire that structure, which has had several names and has remained in private ownership over the years. The office complex is now called First State Capitol Building, in recognition of its earlier role.

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Congratulations and best wishes are extended to Joseph “Doc” Viglietta, who has retired as principal of Wheeling Central Catholic High School after 40 years of service to the school.

At the school’s graduation ceremony last weekend, it was announced that, in honor of his retirement, Viglietta and his wife, Eileen, are receiving the gift of a trip to Rome, Italy. Not only is Rome the seat of Catholicism, but also the Eternal City has personal significance for the couple. It was noted that the Vigliettas met and married in Rome.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: