WHEELING - The Elm Grove neighborhood, located just a few miles east of downtown Wheeling, has its own business association and offers a unique blend of businesses, restaurants, civic organizations, recreational opportunities, schools and churches - all highlighted by a few notes of interesting history, according to several local community leaders.
The Elm Grove Business Association was founded in 1999 by a group of like-minded local business people whose common mission is to promote awareness about local businesses in the Elm Grove community and to build relationships between them so they will continue to thrive in today's economy. That area of the city continues to be the biggest Business and Occupation tax generator for the city, according to Wheeling's 6th Ward Councilman Eugene Fahey.
Fahey, who has lived in Elm Grove for nearly 15 years, said once Interstate 70 was put in place in the late 1960s, Elm Grove has not been "just a place out the pike anymore." Instead, it became a more convenient place for people to shop and visit.
Motorists drive over the Elm Grove Stone Bridge, which was built in 1817 by Moses Shephard, a prominent Ohio Countian, as part of the construction of National Road. It is now the oldest bridge in West Virginia.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
"Elm Grove, I believe, is one of the most unique areas in the Ohio Valley to live, because you have a wonderful diversity of both business and residential. ... It has always had very good relations between its residents and businesses," said Fahey. "You have just about everything a person could want, and you also have very nice, affordable residential housing.
"I see the city looking to Elm Grove as a model. ... It gives me great pride to be the person who has been elected to represent the Elm Grove area," said Fahey. "It's just a great place to live, work, worship and go to school."
Beth Strawn, who serves as president of the Elm Grove Business Association and is a branch manager for Main Street Bank, said the community has a strong business association that allows independent businesses to network together and understand the concerns and needs of the area.
The business association also was recognized by Mayor Andy McKenzie during his recent State of the City address for it community involvement.
"We share the positive and the negatives of the businesses, and we try to help solve any issues we can for these businesses," said Strawn. "Our main purpose is awarding scholarships to children of members of the EGBA in hopes they will choose to stay in this area and possibly open their own business some day and become leaders of our community."
She said the business association is able to raise the funds for scholarships through it Taste of Elm Grove fundraiser and Business After Hours events.
"In 2012 we were able to award five $1,000 scholarships ... to five young adults in our community," said Strawn.
Former 6th Ward councilman Barry Crow, who helped organize the Elm Grove Business Association more than a decade ago, said he felt that area of the city wasn't receiving quite the support it needed from the chamber of commerce and downtown business district in Wheeling.
The business association today has grown to more than 80 members.
"Out here, we were sort of out of the loop with things - and I felt if we had our own little business association, we would be better serving the community," said Crow. "You can get about anything you need in Elm Grove ... and it's a safe community," he added.
Crow is also quick to point out the number of sports complexes and recreational spots in the Elm Grove area, including J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex off Interstate 470, which currently has six ballfields, including the new Miracle Field set to open in May. There is a skatepark that was constructed just a few years ago near the walking trail, and the Patterson ballfield complex near the Elm Grove Civics building is just a few blocks away from the J.B Chambers Memorial YMCA and the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum.
Crow said Monument Place and the Elm Grove Stone Bridge are two historic landmarks in that section of the city.
Monument Place is the home built by the Shepherd family in 1798, which is still located at the intersection of W.Va. 88 and Kruger Street and has been home of the Osiris Shrine since 1927. In addition, the Elm Grove Stone Bridge was built in 1817 by Moses Shepherd, a prominent Ohio Countian, as part of the construction of National Road. It is now the oldest bridge in West Virginia.