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Steubenville City Council Honors Wiggins for Lifetime of Service

Photo by Linda Harris – Steubenville Mayor Jerry Barilla, right, gives Delores Wiggins shared plans for a plaque at the city building to celebrate her “unselfish service” to the community over the past 30-plus years.

STEUBENVILLE — For more than 30 years, Delores Wiggins has been a champion in how she’s advocated for the city’s African-American community. On Tuesday, Steubenville City Council recognized and honored her efforts.

After presenting a proclamation to Wiggins, Mayor Jerry Barilla gave her a sneak-peek of a plaque to be erected in her honor in the city building.

The proclamation cited Wiggins’ three-decades-plus work in the area of civil rights, pointing out she’s been an active member and president of the local chapter of the NAACP “and has represented the interests of the city of Steubenville’s African-American community for over 30 years.”

Founder of the Ohio Black Caucus and a member of the Martin Luther King foundation, she’s served on the Steubenville Civil Service Commission for 35 years, most recently as chair.

An accomplished musician, she’s played piano and led choirs in churches throughout the Ohio Valley and served as Minister of Music at Quinn Memorial AME Church.

“She spent over three months in the hospital,” Barilla pointed out prior to the presentation. “Thank God she’s out and, hopefully, feeling better.”

Barilla recalled how she’d once told him that the Civil Service Board has to go by the book, “no matter who you know or represent. … Absolutely no favoritism.”

“I’ve always remembered it,” he said. “By the book, honesty and fairness.”

Sixth Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna recalled sitting with Wiggins at civil service hearings back when he was on the city police force.

“I’ll say this about her,” he said. “She was always for the right. (I remember) she brought somebody down to the police department for a complaint, the lady was upset, she really felt she was going to come out winning. We went in, me, Delores and this lady and watched the tape (and the complainant’s version of events) was the farthest thing from the truth. Delores told her, ‘Shut up, now you’re acting like a fool. Let’s get out of here.’ She was always on the side of what was right, whether it was the officer or the complainant.”

Second Ward Councilman Craig Petrella said he’s known Wiggins a long time, “(and) a lot of times when I was a younger councilman, I relied on her expertise to guide me through some difficult times.

“I just want to say thank you.”

Wiggins was appreciative, telling council, “When I first came, it wasn’t like it is now. I’ve made a lot of good friends along the way. Thank God for my children being here, my ‘sister’ Gloria. Thank God for Steubenville, for my council and for you calling me down. I appreciate that.”

Later, she recalled the late Nelson Mandela saying, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”

“The country belongs to all of us,” she said. “No one owns it. For the people, by the people, with liberty and justice for all.”

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