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Howard's Commentary - Crystal Balling 2017 - Part 1

2016 was a fascinating year. And 2017 presents its own special challenges.

A movement to youth and change in Wheeling as a new, social-media-savvy crop of council candidates swept into City Hall this Spring along with an Ohio County school board election that realigned the balance of power and seemed to smooth over the nasty edges we saw for the previous year topped the nonpartisan races.

November saw a deepening red in WV politics and the stunning surprise of Trump's victory was joined with local losses of incumbents and expected winners locally and regionally.

Personally, it was an exciting year as I was inducted into the WV Broadcasters Hall of Fame, was named co-Grand Marshall of Wheeling's Christmas parade, and spent even more time with my delightful grandson, Teddy.

(Check out my SoundCloud account for audio podcasts of my interviews on 2016 in review).

But now Father Time has flipped the calendar and here are some things I think we should watch in 2017.


**Wheeling council needs to develop a clear vision of what Downtown is supposed to be and articulate it clearly to business and residents. The purchase, demo and redevelopment of the 1100 block was very forward thinking and there are other positive moves being made--but to what end? What is the vision?

**A glaring need for Downtown is parking. Hundreds of new employees of the Health Plan will stream into Downtown Wheeling later this year but there is simply no convenient parking. Many on the current council feel parking is not the best use of Downtown space as they want a more "walkable" city.

**Balancing the desire to save, rehab, and re adapt some of the city's older structures will need to be balanced with the financial realities of doing so as well as with the potential future development of those buildings.

**With the largest industrial project in Ohio coming close to reality, all Ohio Valley communities need to scramble to be prepared for the big changes a new fracker will bring. Housing availability, housing prices, infrastructure demands, even more restaurants and other services are all going to be issues. Business and government need to be proactive and prepared. Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliot has put a couple of planning committees in place and they need to move aggressively.