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Successful Annexation Movement Supported by Wheeling Chamber

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▼ Magazine Article

-from “The American City,” March 1920, pg. 307-309

Successful Annexation Movement Supported by Wheeling Chamber

Wheeling, W. Va.—The Wheeling Chamber of Commerce took a leading part in bringing to a successful culmination of the Greater Wheeling Movement. This was a project to annex to the city of Wheeling about eight square miles of suburban territory having a population of over 20,000. The Greater Wheeling Committee, upon which the Chamber of Commerce was represented and which it supported morally and financially, secured the passage of an act by the State Legislature providing for an election upon the question, Wheeling to vote with the towns to be annexed. The election was held on November 26 and the project was carried by an overwhelming majority. The consolidation, which became effective on January I, 1920, brings the population of the greater city up to more than 70,000, that of the city of Wheeling itself being 50,000. The towns annexed were Warwood, Fulton, Leatherwood, Woodsdale, Edgewood, Pleasant Valley, Elm Grove and Patterson.

Fourteen reasons for the annexation of these eight separate municipalities are given in the circular that was issued and distributed by the Greater Wheeling Committee during the campaign. They were put in the form of questions entitled "Fourteen Interrogation Points for Greater Wheeling," and are presented herewith:

  1. Why should 70,000 people in Greater Wheeling, whose interests are identical and inseparably bound up together, maintain and support nine separate and distinct municipal governments, such as now exist in Wheeling, Warwood, Fulton, Leatherwood, Woodsdale, Edgewood, Pleasant Valley, Elm Grove and Patterson?
  2. Does not every consideration of economy and efficiency dictate the welding together of these separate units?
  3. Is it not reasonable to suppose that these 70,000 people could better solve the questions and problems affecting each and every one working together, than laboring at cross purposes in nine distinct and separate units?
  4. Is it not reasonable to believe that the public-spirited, forward-looking men of both city and suburbs could make greater progress toward better things for the whole community than they now do, endeavoring to get ahead in divided municipalities?
  5. If the improvements planned by the Wheeling Development Association will vitally affect the interests of all—city and suburbs— why should not all concerned lend a hand and unite their efforts, and can the excellent plans so far outlined be completely carried out in any other way?
  6. As Wheeling has recently adopted a modern up-to-date charter, partly because the suburbs wanted a better and more responsible form of government before annexation would be considered, why shouldn't the suburbs come forward now and help Wheeling make the best of this instrument, for the benefit of the whole community?
  7. Whether the suburbs are consolidated with Wheeling or not, their welfare and progress are vitally affected by Wheeling's government; then would it not be the part of wisdom to pool interests with Wheeling and have a vote and a voice in its affairs? 
  8. Since it is admitted that unless annexation prevails Wheeling must take second or third rank in the state at the next census and appear to the country as a backward, slow-moving town, losing the prestige it has enjoyed, would it not be good business and common sense for the Wheeling community to unite its scattered elements and maintain its first rank and take its place among communities which are going forward, looking forward and increasing in population and power?

  9. Since Wheeling can only extend its boundaries north and east and has been entirely responsible for the thriving suburbs built at its doors, in all fairness and honesty, should his children say to Father Wheeling, "Thus far and no farther," and so stand in the way of the growth and expansion of the whole community for its highest welfare?
  10. Since the suburbs will have a voice in the election of every member of council, and thus be a factor in the Greater City Government, why should they not believe that they will exercise a great influence on its character?
  11. Since Wheeling has shown its civic spirit by voting $1,000,000 for new streets, for which Wheeling people alone will be taxed, but which will benefit the whole county, why shouldn't the suburbs trust the old town and join hands in the forward march of the whole community?
  12. Since every ward in Wheeling is adequately protected by police and fire service, is there any good reason to believe that these will not be extended to the annexed districts, as expressly provided in paragraph 7 of the law?
  13. Since there is an express limit to the municipal tax-levying power, why fear exorbitant or unreasonable taxation under the new regime?
  14. Finally, since every city of any size or importance in the world, from New York and London down, has grown and flourished by the annexation of its suburban territory, and since none has ever repented its steps in this direction or unloosed the ties that bound them together, why should Wheeling not profit by their example?

The circular referred to also contains the nine most important points in the annexation law. One of the directors of the Chamber of Commerce was the father of the Greater Wheeling movement, and another of its directors was chairman of the Greater Wheeling Committee. The manager of the Chamber was the manager of the consolidation campaign; all of which indicates how close was the relationship of the Chamber of Commerce with the movement.

Manager, Wheeling Chamber of Commerce.


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