WHEELING, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Gov. Jim Justice visited Wheeling today to attend a pair of events, including the West Virginia Municipal League’s annual conference and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new, all-inclusive community playground at the Wheeling YMCA.
First Thursday, Gov. Justice addressed hundreds of community leaders from across the state at the West Virginia Municipal League’s (WVML) 52nd annual conference, which is being held this week at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling.
The WVML is a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan association of cities, towns, and villages established in 1968 to assist local governments and advance the interests of their citizens. All 230 municipalities within West Virginia are members of the WVML.
“You are the engines that make so much good happen,” Gov. Justice said. “West Virginia is probably one of the last places where ‘home’ really means something.”
“All the good that you do in your communities, your cities, your villages – whatever it may be – it just absolutely grows who we are every day,” Gov. Justice continued.
During his remarks, the Governor commended municipal leaders for their role in helping West Virginia achieve one of the nation’s most successful responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Justice has dedicated a total of $265 million in CARES Act funding to local governments across the state.
“I have tried, in every way I can, to support you through one of the toughest economic times that we’ve ever faced,” Gov. Justice said. “We now have an economic opportunity beyond belief. Because of the additional surplus and stimulus dollars that we have at our fingertips, we can grow, we can prepare, and we can do all kinds of goodness for our people.
“West Virginia is cooking right now. We have become the diamond in the rough that everybody missed,” Gov. Justice continued. “West Virginia is absolutely on the move, and we will keep it on the move with you as our engine.”
Gov. Justice concluded his address by bringing Babydog onto the stage for a surprise appearance and to encourage all in attendance to get vaccinated.
Following the conference, Gov. Justice made his way to the Wheeling YMCA to take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new, state-of-the-art J.B. Chambers Memorial All-Inclusive Playground.
“I absolutely love what you’re doing here, being inclusive to all kids,” Gov. Justice said. “It is remarkable, and I congratulate you from the very bottom of my heart.”
The playground is designed for all children to enjoy, featuring equipment that allows children in wheelchairs and children with autism to participate fully.
The playground also features two pieces of equipment that are the first of their kind in the world. The Brava Universal Swing allows children in wheelchairs to safely exit their wheelchair and swing. The Serenity Spot provides children with autism a safe space. It consists of several fidget spinners, kick flaps, and calming toys. It also has mirrors to allow children to recognize their emotions.
“The playground company, Recreation Resource, calls it the Rolls-Royce of playgrounds,” said Adam Shinsky, Executive Director of the Wheeling YMCA. “Governor Justice, we are honored to have you here today, especially during a pandemic, for you to be able to come and see our playground and cut the ribbon.”
“This playground is an absolute landmark,” Gov. Justice said. “You really and truly should be off-the-charts proud.”
After introducing Babydog to the crowd, the Governor and local officials cut the ribbon to officially open the playground. Then, the dozens of children in attendance became the first to use the new equipment.