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One Crooked Flower Pot

Each morning as I drive into the newspaper office, I try to take a different route just to have a change of scenery. It can be a challenge, at times, with all the road work, detours and unexpected lane changes all around our fair city. Funny how the Interstate 70 road work was all we could talk and write about four months ago.

Now it’s just a part of our daily lives, taking a backseat to the coronavirus pandemic. I can tell you that those first few weeks of sheltering in place, when some of us continued working in the office, there was no traffic to speak of on my drive into downtown Wheeling. It was eerie, something out of a B-movie horror flick.

There were few if any vehicles parked on Main or Market streets. Even the 7-Eleven parking lot was void of folks just hanging around as some tend to do there.

But things are different now. More businesses have opened and traffic has resumed. The “Twilight Zone” atmosphere has disappeared.

Most often I will travel along National Road and over Wheeling Hill to get downtown. At the top, I bid good morning to Mingo, the Native American who stands with his arm outstretched in a greeting frozen in time. Then I pass the windmill that has had so many occupants I’ve lost track over the years. I remember it was quite a fascination when we were kids to see it lit up and actually spinning.

Down the other side of the hill heading into town, I can look to my right for a second to catch a glimpse of the Fort Henry and Suspension bridges that cross the mighty Ohio River. I remember what a big deal it was, too, when the Wheeling Tunnels opened and the first cars passed through them.

To my left I watch for deer as they seem to enjoy a jaunt down from what I knew as Vineyard Hills where orchards once graced the steep hillside.

It’s not unusual to have one or two deer dash across the road in front of me. I still don’t understand where they are going when they head down toward the paved streets of historic North Wheeling.

As I make my way into the downtown, I pass the Federal Building on Chapline Street. In front of the stately building are oversized pots that hold an array of flowers. I can’t help but notice that one of these huge containers is tilted awkwardly to one side. I’m not sure how this could have happened as it would require machinery to lift or move such a heavy container.

While this generously-sized flower pot sticks out because of its slanted posture, it manages to serve its purpose of displaying summer blooms.

Continuing down Chapline Street, I drive past the City-County Building where I cut my reporter’s teeth covering city government some years back.

I notice the thin blue line painted along the street that indicates support for the police officers who work out of that municipal building. I think about all the police officers, chief, deputies, sheriffs, state police and federal officers I have met over years. Some were really great law enforcement officers and family men and women. There were some bad eggs I didn’t care for and who, in return, did not care for the media.

Despite the differences we in the media may have had with some of these cops, we learned to respect them for what they do. Often that respect was reciprocated.

Just like that one flower pot sitting askew in front of the Federal Building, police should not be judged by the few bad apples within their ranks. The thin blue line does not need to get any thinner.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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