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Farmers’ Market Idea Pitched to Ohio County Commissioners

WHEELING — A local resident approached Ohio County commissioners on Wednesday about a potential farmers’ market being eyed for The Highlands.

Although he is still in the planning stages of the operation, local grower Eric Blend asked commissioners their thoughts on opening a once-a-week farmers’ market, which would not compete with others in the region. Blend said the new market would be a boon to new growers.

“It’ll be very beneficial to a lot of local farmers, especially people just starting out,” he said, noting mid-June would be the target date for launching the venture.

When asked by commission President Tim McCormick why Blend didn’t vend his wares at the Grow Ohio Valley market in downtown Wheeling, Blend responded that he does, but that The Highlands location would be a more beneficial spot to set up shop. He pointed out that many travelers don’t come to downtown Wheeling for their produce.

“They can only sell to so many people, and I believe The Highlands could be very valuable, and I believe there’s traffic coming through now that doesn’t go downtown,” Blend said.

Blend added that he plans to ask Cabela’s for permission to use its parking lot on the day of operation, with signs advising the market the rest of the week.

He was informed by county solicitor Don Tennant that negotiating the use of the parking lot might be more difficult than just asking the store for permission.

Blend replied, though, that he is in touch with legal resources that specialize in the legal atmosphere of farmers’ markets.

In other matters, the commissioners approved a $10,000 matching grant to procure a scoreboard at the East Wheeling Sports Complex, matching funds raised by Wheeling Central Catholic High School.

“They have made a deal with some folks to put a scoreboard up — they have half the money, they’re asking us for the other half,” McCormick said. “It’s a one-time donation. The scoreboard could be used for any and all activities that take place. I personally don’t have a problem with it.”

McCormick added that the county and The Highlands would have first claim to advertising space on the scoreboard.

Commissioners Donald Nickerson and Randy Wharton voted with McCormick to approve the donation without further discussion.

Also approved without discussion was providing $3,000 for the Beast of the East baseball tournament in July; $4,000 for the Debbie Green Memorial 5K Run/Walk in August; and $1,000 for the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department Project HOPE Winter Walk, all amounts that had been approved in previous years.

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