Keep an eye on drilling

As our mayor and city council are donning their wellington boots and hard hats to commence their panning operations on the great slopes of Oglebay Park, and other city owned property, in search of natural gas deposits and other of God’s precious gifts, let us hope that perhaps, if God grants them the good fortune to find that fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they will not become overwhelmed with the notorious “gold rush fever,” but instead, will thoughtfully plan ahead and develop a depository for the new found wealth that will benefit all the residents of Wheeling.

I refer of course to the prospect of natural gas drilling commencing on city and Oglebay-owned property as previously reported in the Wheeling News-Register and sanctioned by a 6-1 vote at the city council meeting of Oct. 21. Councilman Herk Henry, that watchdog of public funds and environmentalism extraordinaire, voiced the one negative vote, recording the conscience of his constituents. (Now that, was a refreshing twist.)

I envision, that left to their own devices, if and when the drill rigs start gushing forth the odorless, tasteless and invisible blessing of mother Earth, our mayor and city council will suddenly see the Capitol Theatre as the next Taj Mahal, gilded in Gold, with life-sized gold statues of all the past country and western stars who ever performed there, permanently located on every street corner of the then still deserted former downtown Wheeling.

I suggest to our mayor and council that they should look closely, and look closely now, at the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation from which all residents of the State of Alaska receives a yearly stipend. In 1976 the governor and legislature of that state recognized that all the residents of the state should receive some benefit from the natural resources contained therein. Our mayor and city Council possibly have that same opportunity here in Wheeling if the search for natural gas comes to fruition, but do they have the will and the maturity to look beyond their own selfish interest, and share some good fortune with the people of Wheeling, who for so long have been deprived. With proper planning, well beyond most of the council’s comprehension, both the residents and the city coffers could profit from the anticipated bonanza.

Watch them closely; this is public land, thus public money.

William H. Hefner

Wheeling