New DHHR Location Will Be Operating in July

WHEELING – The first floor of a former car dealership is expected to be occupied by local West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources workers in July.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly renovated Mary Margaret Laipple Professional Building – once home to the Robinson car dealership – was held Friday morning at the 16th Street location.

Building owner Mike Ferns of Wheeling said he is pleased with the structure’s new look, noting the first floor consists of 28,000 square feet of space and will house the Ohio County DHHR office. He said the estimated move-in date for DHHR is July 20.

“It came out nice. … The second and third floors each have 14,000 square feet of space,” Ferns said, noting the top floors are available for rent as well.

Ferns said the building was named after Mary Margaret Laipple, his wife Linda’s mother. Laipple died in 2000. In addition to family members such as Linda Ferns’ siblings Ed Laipple, Peggy Cook and Paul Laipple, also attending the ceremony were City Manager Robert Herron and Councilmen Don Atkinson, Eugene Fahey and Robert “Herk” Henry.

Paul Laipple and his siblings noted their mother was a kind and humble woman who would have asked them why they wanted to put her name and face on the building.

“I’d say, ‘Mom, the reason you’re up there is because you’re special and kind and caring,'” Paul Laipple said.

The building was blessed by the Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

Ferns purchased the downtown Wheeling site for $650,000 from the Ohio County Development Authority.

About 100 Ohio County DHHR employees will relocate to the site from their current location at 407 Main St., North Wheeling.