WHEELING - The YMCA in Wheeling believes in "building strong kids, strong families and strong communities" - a philosophy also embraced by the Ohio County Commission and county administrator.
On Wednesday afternoon, Commissioners Randy Wharton, Tim McCormick and former commissioner David Sims, who now serves as 1st Judicial Circuit judge, and county Administrator Greg Stewart were honored as the recipients of the 2012 Light of the Valley, receiving the Dr. Edmund Lee Jones "Patron of Youth" award bestowed by the YMCA.
During a luncheon program held at Wheeling Park's White Palace, several hundred community supporters and well-wishers turned out to honor the award recipients. In the process, supporters generated $57,000 for YMCA programs geared toward families. The funds will provide the money to pay fees for Y programs some families could not otherwise afford.
Photo by Jennifer Compston-Strough
2012 YMCA Light of the Valley honoree Tim McCormick speaks during Wednesday’s luncheon at Wheeling Park’s White Palace. Ohio County officials were recognized for their efforts at The Highlands.
McCormick, who acted as spokesman for the award recipients, said he and his fellow Ohio County officials were "humbled and honored" to be selected and "proud to be mentioned in the same breath as past recipients."
This is the sixth year for the awards. Past recipients have included G. Randolph "Randy" Worls, Bob Robinson, Robert Nutting, Gary West and the late Bishop Bernard Schmitt.
Recognizing the work of the commission, Stewart and the Ohio County Development Authority to bring The Highlands retail center to fruition in Ohio County, McCormick noted it has only succeeded because of teamwork.
"On a team everyone has a role. No one is more important than the other. With all roles, big and small, being fulfilled projects get done," McCormick said. "We not only get along as professionals, but as friends."
McCormick thanked the development authority, lending institutions and the construction trades for their cooperation in building The Highlands into a successful endeavor. He also thanked their wives for their patience.
The Highlands has generated nearly 3,200 jobs, an annual payroll of $62 million and $4 million in property tax income. In addition, land at the sprawling retail center is now selling for as much as $750,000 per acre. The county purchased the property for $900 per acre.
In order to facilitate the development of The Highlands, which began with the Cabela's Outdoor Store, the county received a $15 million government grant to build the interstate interchange at the site and a $35 million state grant for start-up costs.
"By mid-October of this year, the state will have received a $55 million return on that money, and things are still moving up on the hill," McCormick added. "We know what the Y does for our families, and we wanted to work to put people to work and to inspire quality of life."
Future plans at The Highlands include "diversifying" to fill spaces, McCormick said.
West Liberty University head basketball coach Jim Crutchfield served as guest speaker for the event. He said the county officials are often overlooked for the "behind the scenes" work they do to manage and grow the county.
"Like basketball, their jobs are tough to leave at the office. They take it home with them. ... But the rewards are great, and you have made the Ohio Valley a better place to live and I thank you for that."