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Manchin: Proposed Budget Includes Millions in Local Earmarks

This building on 17th Street in Wheeling is the planned new home of the Grow Ohio Valley Food Hub. GrowOV could receive $620,000 for the project if the federal spending bill now being debated in Congress is voted through. (Photo by Derek Redd)

WHEELING — The federal spending bill being debated in Congress includes funding for upgrades to make the former Ohio Valley Medical Center marketable, as well as money to outfit the new Wheeling Police Department headquarters, according to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.

Manchin, D-W.Va., has provided a list of projects he has secured that are contained in the appropriations bills that comprise the federal budget bill.

“I am pleased to see the draft Democratic appropriations bills include many West Virginia priorities that I fought for — including water and wastewater upgrades, healthcare and education investments, (and) transportation projects and economic development opportunities for West Virginia,” Manchin said in a statement. “While these draft bills are a first step, we must find a bipartisan compromise to pass a reasonable, fiscally sound spending bill.”

Manchin reiterated he would not vote for legislation that does not include the Hyde Amendment — a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape.

“I fully expect the final spending bill to include that language,” he said.

The proposed projects and the preliminary funding numbers outlined are subject to final passage of the budget bill, he noted.

Funding for two of the projects secured by Manchin would be directed to the city of Wheeling and projects on the OVMC campus property it owns.

There is $1.001 million suggested for providing the new Wheeling Police Department headquarters to be located there with additional technology — including computers, data servers, and security.

Another $500,000 is being proposed “to undertake the design and engineering of public infrastructure — including HVAC and energy efficient systems — needed to reopen the Ohio Valley Medical Center (OVMC) hospital and health complex.”

Improvements wouldn’t be limited to just the installation of a new ventilation system, explained Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron. He said there are ongoing discussions about what work will take place on the OVMC campus.

“It can include anything from demolition to rehabilitation, but no decisions have been made,” he said.

“As we move through, this funding will greatly assist us in formulating a project at that site. We really appreciate the senator’s efforts to make this happen.”

He said the city last month began a year-long project to renovate the former Valley Professional Center building into the new Wheeling Police Department headquarters, and that the project is “progressing well.”

Herron said ideas for what is needed for the new facility were submitted to Manchin’s office, and he again thanked Manchin for assisting the city. Herron also thanked Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. He said many of the earmarks proposed for their area are jointly sponsored.

The Grow Ohio Valley Food Hub is also listed to receive $620,000 in the budget bill. The money is intended for the completion of “critical building renovations and program-specific fixtures and furnishings, including commercial kitchen appliances, food processing equipment, and other equipment for the Wheeling Food Hub.

“The Food Hub has the potential to be transformative for the local food system — and for farmers, restaurateurs and food entrepreneurs,” said Danny Swan, executive director of Grow Ohio Valley.

“We know this funding isn’t across the finish line yet, and that we still need to pass a budget. But we are still grateful to Sens. Capito and Manchin for investing in West Virginia farmers and small businesses.”

Wheeling Food Hub Manager Vincent DeGeorge said the goal of the Food Hub is to provide farmers and food providers everything they need to get their product from the farm to a restaurant or market.

Elsewhere in the Northern Panhandle, the city of Weirton is set to receive $22.47 million to increase the city’s water treatment system capacity.

Another $4 million has been designated for Port of West Virginia Railroad Bridge improvements in Brooke County. Rail infrastructure and upgrades are planned at the site.

The city of New Martinsville is listed to receive $1.15 million for a fire service facility. The money would be used to assist in the relocating and consolidating of two stations to improve emergency response times.

Also in New Martinsville, $58,000 is being proposed to purchase a vehicle and body cameras for its law enforcement officers. The city currently does not have the funding to provide body cameras to all its officers, according to the information provided by Manchin.

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