WEIRTON — The members of the Leadership Ohio Valley Class of 2019 have made their mark on the community, and they hope to see it remain for years to come.
Saturday morning, members of the class, along with special guests, gathered behind the Mary H. Weir Public Library to unveil their work on the revitalized outdoor art gallery and garden.
“The 2019 graduating class is here today to make a memory, hopefully make a tradition,” class member Joe Lombardi said.
In recent months, the Leadership Ohio Valley participants have uncovered a sidewalk which led to a house once on the property, purchased new benches and planted flowers around the displays for the outdoor art gallery. A new lamp post also was installed.
As part of the project, the group also commissioned a time capsule which was buried in the gallery Saturday.
The capsule, which has been marked with a plaque and a paving stone in the gallery, contains copies of The Weirton Daily Times, photographs of the class, a letter discussing Leadership Ohio Valley and other items selected by the class. Plans are for it to be uncovered in May 2029.
“It’s an idea for people to see life 10 years past, and see the subtle changes or hopefully the large changes,” Lombardi said.
Others noted the items in the time capsule will showcase the bonds formed by the class through their experiences together.
“Our class has developed a camaraderie like I have never experienced,” Alexis Russell said. “We now have a lifelong connection.”
In addition to planning their activities and learning together, the class also went through several life events, with one member having a baby during the program. Shortly after their graduation in June, the group also experienced loss with the death of classmate Tom Bowman. A moment of silence was held in Bowman’s honor Saturday, and a sign hung near the entrance of the gallery shows the work has been dedicated in his memory.
DeeAnn Pulliam said she was grateful for the experiences, as they created new friendships while also helping her to integrate more in the community.
“We had a really fun class,” she said. “There was probably more laughter than seriousness.”
Members of the 2019 Class of Leadership Ohio Valley, and their sponsors, were Alexis Russell, Follansbee Chamber of Commerce; Anthony Bernardi, Greco-Hertnick Funeral Home; DeeAnn Pulliam, City of Weirton; Deidra Edwards, Hancock County Savings Bank; Joe Lombardi, Lombardi Development Co.; Kaylee Richter, Hancock County Savings Bank; Kerri Freshwater, Weirton Geriatric Center; Missy Mikula, Howard Hanna Mortimer Realty; Stephanie O’Brien, Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce; Staci Breen, Weirton Medical Center Physician Practices; and Tom Bowman, Weirton Heights Rotary and Wellspring Family Services.
Leadership Ohio Valley is organized through the Weirton Chamber, and President Brenda Mull expressed her pride in the class.
“I hope you continue to bond,” she said.
Debbie Puskarich, president of the Follansbee Chamber, said she has known of the Leadership program for many years, and is glad to see it growing into other communities of the region.
“I think it is a great program,” she told the class.
Weirton Mayor Harold Miller also was on hand, thanking the class for their efforts to preserve local history with the time capsule.
“When you open this in 10 years, it’s going to be interesting to see how our community has grown,” he said.
Area businesses and organizations contributing to the project included the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center, Iannetti’s Garden Center, Morelli Brothers Block and Brick Co., Atlantis Technologies LLC, Lombardi Development Co., American Muscle Docks, the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce, Serra Village Retirement Community and Busy Beaver Building Centers Inc.
The plaque showing the location of the time capsule was made possible by an anonymous donor.
The class also offered its thanks to Rik Rekowski and the members of the Mary H. Weir Public Library Board for allowing the project.