WHEELING - Ninety-two-year-old Al Weidetz of Wheeling has had two loves in his life - his wife Rosie and riding his bicycle along the city's Heritage Trail.
Out of a love of both, Weidetz decided to donate money to purchase seating to be placed along the city's waterfront walking trail. Weidetz said there was no better way to honor his late wife than by placing seats along the river that the couple used to navigate in their boat.
"Rosie loved the river and we would go up and down on our boat," Weidetz said. "She would have loved to sit here on the trail and look at the river."
Photo by Scott McCloskey
It’s installation day for three benches and two chairs donated to Wheeling’s Heritage Trail. Shown with the new seating from left standing are, City Manager Robert Herron, Boy Scouts Troop 6 representative Ron Pickens, Mayor Andy McKenzie, David Runyon, Boy Scout Zachary Runyon, Wheeling Heritage Trails officials Ben Stout and R. “Scat” Scatterday; seated, Al Weidetz of Wheeling who purchased the seating.
Weidetz contacted R. "Scat" Scatterday, manager/project engineer for the Wheeling/Ohio County Rails to Trails, to coordinate the donation. Together Scatterday and Weidetz went shopping for the appropriate seating and found just what Weidetz wanted at Smith's Sawdust Studio in Belmont.
Scatterday said Weidetz's contribution of $2,000 enabled them to acquire generously sized chairs and three benches made of "nearly indestructible poly vinyl." Adding to the sentiment of the donation, the benches have been inscribed with the name "Rosie."
Wheeling city officials agreed that the donation was a wonderful addition to the city's much-utilized Heritage Trail. However, the generosity did not stop with Weidetz.
The benches and chairs would need to be permanently installed, which would require a concrete pad and mounting pins be constructed at the five locations. To facilitate this end of the project, in stepped 14-year-old Boy Scout Zachary Runyon of Wheeling.
Runyon, a student at Wheeling Park High School, offered to build the mounting pins and prepare the concrete pads. He tagged this work as his Scout project with an eye on attaining the prestigious Eagle Scout award.
With assistance from members of his Ohio River Valley Troop 6 at Vance Church, his parents, David and Leisa, and his troop mentor Ron Pickens, the work was completed last week.
"We spent a couple of evenings and Saturdays digging the holes, building the frames and then pouring the concrete," Runyon said. "Once the chairs are in place, I'll go back and plant grass seed."
The two Adirondak-style chairs have been installed by city crews near the Walter Reuther statue on the trail adjacent to WesBanco Arena.
The benches have been placed along the trail at the steps near Uncle Pete's restaurant in North Wheeling, near Wheeling Tire, at Centre Foundry and at Pike Island Lock and Dam next to the eagle's perch sign.
The permanent seating arrived just in time for the busy waterfront festival season, as well as the upcoming Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic on May 25-26 and the Ohio Valley Trail Partners' Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour on May 27.