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Steve Novotney Says, "You Can Connect with Government Leaders"

OVConnect is an organization here in the Upper Ohio Valley that owns just one goal – networking.

Founded in 2007 by Justin Seibert, president and owner of Direct Online Marketing, the initial objective was to assist young citizens with meeting one another because, at the time, Seibert believed there lacked an avenue for 20-something men and women to join forces in an area traditionally governed by members of the Baby Boomer generation. Seibert and the many other members have since succeeded, and this Thursday at River City Restaurant on downtown Wheeling OVConnect will stage its annual City and County Government Luncheon.

Beginning at 11:45 p.m. the one-hour-or-so forum will feature Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, Ohio County Commissioner Tim McCormick, and Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas.

Elliott, elected in May after collecting more than 10,000 votes in the municipal election, has been a very busy individual since taking office on July 1. Along with attending daily meetings and functions, Elliott has worked with Wheeling Council members to address the city's park and playgrounds by creating a new position within his administration; he guided them to using Home Rule provisions to allow alcohol sales beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays, and also he has been very involved with the ongoing conversation concerning the establishment of LGBT standards in the Friendly City.

McCormick has served on the Ohio County Commission for more than a decade, and many recognize him as one of the masterminds with the development of The Highlands, a retail and light industry development near Dallas Pike, where more than 1,200 local residents are employed today. In August 2014 Cabela's Outfitters launched what has become a success despite economic setbacks, including the "Great Recession" that halted development throughout the United States. That trend, though, has changed, and most recently The Highlands added Bubba's Gourmet Burgers and Beers near the West Liberty University campus and Marriott's Fairfield Suites.

Thomas will be the only experienced commissioner in Belmont County when Josh Meyer and P.J. Dutton join him in January after Commissioner Ginny Favede vacated her seat after deciding to run for a state office, and Commissioner Matt Coffland was defeated by Meyer in his re-election bid. Thomas has been very involved for the past year with the proposed development of a petrochemical plant in Belmont County and with the growing gas and oil industries in all corners of the county. The co-owner of Ye Olde Alpha in Wheeling, Thomas is an attorney by trade with two years remaining in his current term in office.

The cost to attend the luncheon is just $10 and will offer any newcomer the chance to meet OVConnect members ranging in age now that the organization has evolved over the past nine years. Because most folks only have an hour for lunch the program is moved along swiftly while offering each city and county official plenty of time to update the attendees on the latest developments within their respective jurisdictions.

An annual membership to OVConnect is $20 and includes a plethora of events each year. More information can be obtained by visiting OVConnect's website (, and the organization also owns a Facebook Timeline (