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‘No Loitering’ Signs Meant To Curb Vagrants’ Use of Lobby

January 28, 2013
By SHELLEY HANSON - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Visitors to the City-County Building on Chapline Street in Wheeling may have noticed some new signage posted at the facility warning people there is ''no loitering'' allowed.

The signs facing toward the street note they are ''ordered by the Ohio County Sheriff's Department.'' However, there is just one problem: Sheriff Pat Butler doesn't know anything about the signs or who erected them.

''We didn't put them up,'' Butler said while waiting for a recent Ohio County Commission meeting to begin. ''I don't care as long as no one is loafing. We did have a couple guys in there sleeping.''

In the past, a man with a disheveled appearance has been seen sleeping or simply sitting in a chair in the lobby after regular business hours. However, during hours when public meetings - such as for City Council or the Ohio County Commission - are typically held there.

Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart said no one in his office erected the signs either. Butler offered that perhaps the Wheeling Police Department erected the signs; however, he had no explanation as to why the signs state they were ''ordered'' by the sheriff's department.

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said he did not have the signs posted either. But he noted after speaking with a county maintenance worker he learned that more than a year ago, at the request of the police department, the signs were erected because the department was receiving complaints about people having to ''climb over'' vagrants loitering in the lobby. The request was made before Schwertfeger started in the chief's position.

''Apparently it has worked because I haven't received any complaints,'' he said, noting he does not know why the signs state they are ordered by the sheriff's department.

After business hours, people have been seen sitting on the steps on the16th Street side of the building. On one evening, a woman was working on a laptop computer utilizing the building's Internet capabilities.

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