Sternwheel Scholars To Receive Awards

The 10th annual Wheeling Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival gets under way Thursday, and the students who will benefit from its proceeds already have been named.

Members of the Wheeling Heritage Port Sternwheel Foundation recently announced the awarding of their annual scholarships to four area students attending West Liberty University this fall. Each student is the recipient of a $2,500 scholarship.

The dream of creating scholarships for local students through the Sternwheel Foundation Scholarship Committee became a reality several years ago, thanks to the efforts of Gary and Phyllis “Flip” West of Wheeling, who also have a home in Naples, Fla.

Gary West, a graduate of West Liberty and a founding member of the foundation, made the scholarships possible for four incoming freshmen to West Liberty, with the condition that the awards be named the “Wheeling Heritage Port Sternwheel Foundation – Laurence P. Williams Scholarships” in honor of Williams, who is the former alumni director and director of continuing and extended education at WLU. Williams, after having served the university for 39 years, is being honored by the West family for his service to the school and the Ohio Valley.

The four students selected for scholarships this year are: Alexandra Neidhardt of Wheeling Central Catholic High School, Darian Owen and Paige Smearman, both of Oak Glen High School, and Dalis Wilkerson of John Marshall High School.

The students were selected for their scholastic achievement and extracurricular activities, including volunteerism and employment history while attending high school. Each recipient was also required to submit an essay explaining the impact of the sternwheeler boat on the development of the Ohio Valley.

This year’s Sternwheel Festival is scheduled to kick off at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and will again feature a wide array of sternwheelers from up and down the Ohio River. The festival will also offer free entertainment, local bands, food and refreshment vendors, children’s games, an “Anything That Floats Race” and a fireworks display Saturday evening.

The four scholarship winners will be recognized by the Wests at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the main stage.