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Wheeling City Council Returns to In-Person Meetings Tonight

WHEELING – Wheeling City Council will return to in-person meetings tonight for the second time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced officials to hold public meetings in a virtual setting online.

City leaders began holding council meetings and other city meetings online this spring when state and local health officials imposed social distancing mandates in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. At the beginning of summer, two in-person council meetings were held in City Council Chambers with those in attendance required to wear masks and maintain six feet of distance between them. The in-person meetings earlier this summer were short-lived, as a surge in coronavirus cases in the state prompted the governor to re-impose strict limits on public gatherings. Most people in attendance at the last in-person Wheeling City Council meeting ended up being tested for COVID-19 after it was discovered Vice Mayor Chad Thalman, who was present at the meeting on July 7, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Meetings returned to cyberspace in July, but in recent weeks, some city leaders have expressed an eagerness to get back to meeting in person, with the appropriate safety measures in place.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have looked to state and local health experts for guidance on whether to have in-person council meetings, and if so, how to do so responsibly,” Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott said this week. “While our Zoom meetings have worked out well, my preference has always been to meet in-person when we can. We are prepared to do so on Tuesday while taking necessary precautions.”

Tonight’s city council meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Wheeling City Council Chambers inside the City-County Building at 1500 Chapline St. There will be two committee meetings prior to the regular city council meeting. The Rules Committee of Council — consisting of Thalman as chairman, Councilman Jerry Sklavounakis as vice chairman and Councilman Dave Palmer as a member — will meet at 4:15 p.m., and the Finance Committee of Council–with Palmer as chairman, Councilman Ty Thorngate as vice-chairman and Thalman as member — will meet at 5:15 p.m.

Among items on tonight’s agenda are final readings for a number of traffic rule amendments pertaining to stop sign placement at intersections. A final reading on the creation of a new Mayor’s Economic Advisory Commission is also expected to be heard.

New legislation set to be introduced tonight includes a resolution authorizing the city of Wheeling to accept the terms and conditions of the contract related to maintain the Region 4 Highway Safety Program in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia Grant up to the amount of $233,000. An ordinance is being introduced authorizing City Manager Robert Herron to spend $42,281 in Community Development Block Grant funds with Cunningham Recreation of Fort Payne, Alabama, for the Belle Island Playground.

Council also will hear first readings on an ordinance authorizing the city manager to expend $25,670 from the new City Service Fee with H.E. Newman of Wheeling for heating, ventilation and air conditioning system work at the Valley Professional Building, where the new Wheeling Police Department will be headquartered. The first reading for an ordinance authorizing the city manager to spend $17,900 from the water treatment plant fund with Moody’s of Dayton Inc. for rehabilitation to Well Number 2.

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