149 years Celebrated

WHEELING – It’s not every day that city residents Sherry Sloan and Judy Hastings get to see 2011 America’s Got Talent winner Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. perform in Wheeling, but they did Saturday.

Though West Virginia Day does not officially come until Wednesday, Murphy – a Logan, W.Va. native – helped the large crowd gathered at Wheeling’s Heritage Port Saturday celebrate the state’s 149th birthday a little early.

“He has a terrific personality,” Sloan said of Murphy. “I am glad he is carrying on the Frank Sinatra-style of singing.”

“I watched him on America’s Got Talent and was blown away,” added Hastings. “I just had to come down to see him in person.”

Murphy is in the process of preparing his new compact disc release, which will include classic songs as well as his own originals. When not performing, Murphy lives in the same home in Logan County and plays basketball with the neighborhood children to stay in shape.

Other performers included the Joe Zelek Band, Marsh Wheeling Strings Band and the National Pike Pickers. At the end of the concert, fireworks were set off from the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. There were also inflatables for children and a wide variety of food choices.

“This is just such a wonderful event,” said Wheeling resident Laurie Palmer.

“These events help bring people into the city to create more business and activity.”

Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie said Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey deserves a lot of credit for helping to organize the event.

“It’s great to see so many people here having a good time,” McKenzie added.

Those sponsoring the free Saturday concert included Wheeling Hospital, Main Street Bank, the city of Wheeling, the Regional Economic Development Partnership, the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau, JP Morgan Chase, Chesapeake Energy, the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, and the state of West Virginia.