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Do Something Big With Rescue Funds

It’s hard to argue with the first round of grants given by the city of Wheeling to local organizations through the American Rescue Plan Act — $1.885 million to the Wheeling Park Commission to help with much-needed improvements to Wheeling Park; and about $1.5 million to the Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority for upgrades to the Capitol Theatre and WesBanco Arena.

All three of those venues drive economic development in Wheeling. The work planned at all three venues through the ARPA funding will only help to keep them viable into the future.

The Park Commission plans to invest about $3.6 million into a new cafe at the White Palace and a new outdoor deck and patio area. There also will be upgrades to the White Palace’s facade and a new look for the ballroom, along with other improvements to the pool and the ice rink.

“We’re looking to reinvigorate Wheeling Park and make a statement down there,” Bob Peckenpaugh, president and CEO of the Wheeling Park Commission, said.

At WesBanco Arena, the funding will help cover the costs of new chairs and other improvements to the arena. The Capitol will see a new rigging system and historic plaster repair, among other upgrades.

“We’re replacing things at the Capitol that date back to 1928-29, and we’re replacing chairs and things at WesBanco Arena from when I was in high school a long time ago,” Councilman Dave Palmer said.

The key now is what to do with the remaining rescue plan funds. Wheeling City Council still has more than $26 million available to allocate.

And we urge council members, just as they did with these initial allocations, to make the coming requests count with the biggest and boldest projects they can fund.

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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