WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Wheeling Heritage could be no more by the fall of this year, but legislators hope to make that not the case. Two West Virginia senators and two representatives hope to stop the sun from setting on Wheeling’s historic organization.
Executive Director Alex Weld says reauthorization needs to happen this year. Wheeling Heritage is congressionally designated so a lot is riding on what can get done in legislation.
They’ve been a national heritage area since the early 2000s and reauthorization has happened multiple times in the past.
And the work done at Wheeling Heritage speaks volumes.
An impact study in partnership with the National Park Service found $86-Million of economic impact came from Wheeling Heritage in a three-year period!
The legislation, signed on by Senator Manchin and Senator Capito, Congressman McKinley and Congresswoman Miller, mirrors previous bills and is asking for a 15-year reauthorization.
“That’s a wonderful first step. The next step is getting a committee to take that up and then to get it moving in either the house or senate. So, we’re not sure where that will end up but we’re really hopeful that this means this is a great first step. The fact that our full federal delegation is behind us is really quite impressive.”Alex Weld, Executive Director of Wheeling Heritage
Weld says a ‘program bill’, recently moved through the House and coming to the Senate, could make it so the 55 designated heritage areas throughout the country would not have to worry about reauthorization every couple years.
That has yet to make it through.
The work that is paying off: Reopening Capitol Theatre, the transformation of the Wheeling Stamping Building (now occupied by the law firm Orrick), entrepreneur programs, building Heritage Port, and the large events of arts and culture.
It sounds like Wheeling needs our heritage to stick around.