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Off to the Right Start With Federal Funds

For a city of 27,000 residents, Wheeling has cultural amenities that far surpass many of its larger neighbors.

We believe allocating a little more than $3 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan proceeds to organizations that help to keep Wheeling as a regional tourism and destination hub is the right move that will pay dividends far into the future.

Members of city council’s finance committee this week agreed to provide rescue plan funds to the Wheeling Park Commission, WesBanco Arena and the Capitol Theatre. Of particular note, the funding for the Capitol will allow for the replacement of the venue’s fly system, which has been in use since it opened.

Some of those performing at the Capitol recently have raised concerns with the fly system. Councilman Dave Palmer said the upgrade would allow for more productions to utilize the venue.

“The fly system is the original — so we’re taking it back to 1929 or 1930,” said Palmer. “What’s going to happen is we’re going to lose Broadway shows if we don’t replace this system.”

That can’t be allowed to happen.

Taxpayers have invested millions in purchasing and restoring the Capitol Theatre, and it needs to remain the centerpiece around which downtown Wheeling is re-imagined. This funding will keep that plan viable.

The allocations made Tuesday are just the first step in this process, as the city has $26 million remaining in ARPA funds. As we’ve discussed previously, it is now up to members of council to do something truly special with the remaining funds that could help set the city on a new path.

While these initial allocations are needed and important, and will continue to serve those visiting and living here, council should not forget that this funding marks a real opportunity to remake Wheeling.


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