Salvation Army in Wheeling to close for renovations

Bellaire shelter responding to meet needs of community

WHEELING — The Bellaire Salvation Army is one of the Ohio Valley organizations working to “fill the gap” in services that will be needed when Wheeling’s Salvation Army temporarily closes for renovations starting next month.

The Ohio County Salvation Army in East Wheeling will close Sept. 1 to conduct work to improve the center, with hopes to reopen in spring or summer next year, Capt. Mark Van Meter said.

“We’re doing this at this time so that we can be a better service provider in the community,” Van Meter said. “We definitely want to be a better partner to provide the best services in the community.”

Planned work includes rehabilitating the facility’s bathrooms, deep cleaning, painting and other work that will cost about $175,000, Van Meter said. The organization is seeking donations and corporate sponsors to fund the renovations.

Meanwhile, local organizations that provide similar services are working to make sure people in need aren’t impacted by the closure. Van Meter said Thursday that he met with the Bellaire Salvation Army and the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless to discuss plans.

“We decided it would be a good idea to call in all of our shelter providers in the Northern Panhandle to discuss how we could close the gap created by temporary closure,” said Lisa Badia, executive director of the coalition and co-chair of the Northern Panhandle Continuum of Care. “So I can speak on behalf of (the coalition) by saying that I respect this act that the Salvation Army wants to develop a better shelter. We’re very supportive of what they need to do.”

Van Meter, who has led Wheeling’s Salvation Army as captain with his wife Jennifer since June, said he expects the closure will have an impact on the homeless community in the area. The facility at 140 16th St. serves as an emergency shelter and offers a cooling center in the summer and a warming center in the winter.

“We’re trying to make sure the inventory of beds in the community are adequate for those in need. We don’t want anybody in the community to go without,” Van Meter said.

Badia said other emergency shelters are looking to expand the number of beds they offer. Also, the homeless coalition, which has a transitional housing facility, plans to expedite the process of admitting people.

“Typically somebody is admitted to traditional housing, then admitted for intake, then moved to transitional housing. We’re expediting that, putting them from the street into a transitional housing facility,” Badia said. “We feel that we’re getting a plan together and hope to meet again in September to further iron out the details. (The Salvation Army) is not going out of business, they’re going to reopen with a better facility.”

Van Meter said the timeline for the renovations will depend on support from the community and finding a contractor. The Wheeling Salvation Army accepts cash donations and can be reached at 304-233-4400.

Van Meter and his wife moved to Wheeling in June after being transferred from the Salvation Army in Louisville, Ky. The two have been Salvation Army officers for the past 10 years and worked in Kentucky for three years.

“We’re delighted to be in Wheeling, we find it to be a warm and inviting area,” Van Meter said. “We know Wheeling is kind of hard hit with economics, but we’ve seen communities figure out strategies to come out of it. I think Wheeling is a beautiful community that will find its way.”