The $10,000 Williams Partners donated to the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival would buy a lot of meatballs, but instead officials said the money will bolster the organization's scholarship program.
"Since our main goal is to provide scholarships, this makes our job a little bit easier," said festival President Marian Grubor, following her acceptance of the money during a special reception at West Virginia Northern Community College.
Although Williams is based in Tulsa, Okla., Strategic Outreach Coordinator Scott Carney spends plenty of time at the company's Moundsville field office. He said many of the company's employees are fans of the food, fireworks, music and other aspects of the Wheeling festival.
People browse food vendors on Water Street during the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival, set for July 26-28 this year at Wheeling’s Heritage Port.
"I have been to many festivals, but nothing that seems to be on this scale," he said.
Preparations for this year's 31st annual festival, set for July 26-28 at Wheeling's Heritage Port, are well under way. The annual Kick-Off Dinner is set for July 24 at Wheeling's McLure Hotel. For more festival information or tickets to the dinner, call 304-233-1090.
Williams now operates the Fort Beeler processing facility along U.S. 250 between Cameron and Moundsville, as well as the fractionator along the Ohio River south of Moundsville. Carney said his company is investing another $1.5 billion to build another processing facility in the Fork Ridge area of Marshall County.
"If it is important to the community, it is important to Williams," Carney said regarding his company's support of the festival.
Also, awarded $1,000 scholarships as part of the festival this year were: Juliet Casinelli of Brooke High School, Taylor Yeater of Bridgeport High School, Brittney Fisher of John Marshall High School, Stephanie Brown of JMHS, Corey Leasure of Bellaire St. John Central High School, Heavenly Florio of West Virginia Northern Community College, Alec Buchmelter of Brooke High School, Kaitlyn Fleming of Shadyside High School, George Kellas III of Wheeling Park High School, Christa Calangelo of WPHS, Joshua Weltner of Oak Glen High School, Sara Reed of OGHS, Joshua Higgins of Edison High School and Laken Visnick of Wheeling Central Catholic High School.
Honored as co-Italian-American of the Year for 2013 were Gilda Reed and Dr. John DeBlasis. Grubor said the festival board vote ended in a tie this year, resulting in two honorees.
"We are going to have some new food choices in the cultural area this year," Grubor said. "We just hope everyone has a safe and wonderful time."