ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A pair of former Belmont County residents are offering a match if the two cities in the county agree to fund Wheeling Health Right’s activities on the west side of the Ohio River.
James and Marlene Everson, former residents of St. Clairsville with ties to Martins Ferry, now live in Atwood Lake, Ohio and Naples, Florida. They have offered 100 thousand dollars “Challenge Grant” to Wheeling Health Right through their trust James W. and Marlene K. Everson in hopes of motivating the cities of Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville – plus others – to participate in funding Wheeling Health Right to continue and potentially expand its services in Belmont County.
James Everson had a 55-year banking career with Citizens Savings Bank of Martins Ferry, retiring as its president and CEO in 2004. Marlene Everson was a registered nurse and worked at the Wheeling Clinic. They were also instrumental in providing seed money and ongoing financial support for the Martins Ferry Daily Bread Center, which is now actively managed by the Martins Ferry Ministerial Association, providing food to those in need.
Kathie Brown, executive director of Wheeling Health Right, said the couple approached her with the offer of $20,000 a year, if matched by $10,000 in funding each from the cities of St. Clairsville and Martins Ferry and the ongoing $25,000 match from Belmont County. .
“This gives us a solid and sustainable fund over the next several years.” Brown said.
She noted that Wheeling Health Right provides free primary health care, dental care and other services to approximately 1,400 Belmont County residents each year. Brown said that translates to $214,400 in free medical and dental care for St. Louis residents. Clairsville and $428,800 in free care for Martins Ferry residents.
“We provide a large amount of service, such as medical, dental and prescription drugs, and we have Belmont County residents.” Brown said.
“Because of their understanding and commitment to our mission, the Eversons want to do more and want others to match their commitment.” Brown said in a release.
There was some concern that Wheeling Health Right could end its services in Belmont County due to a lack of funding. In September 2022, the Belmont County Board of Commissioners decided to continue committing $25,000 in annual support.
After learning of the situation, the Eversons sent a letter to Wheeling Health Right offering a $100,000 challenge grant with an anticipated five-year annual commitment of $20,000 to both the cities of Martins Ferry and St. .
“We understand the mission of Wheeling Health Right and through our Challenge Grant it is our hope and goal that they will continue to grow in serving those in need in Belmont County with medical and dental care.” Jim Everson said in a release.
If the cities agree, Brown is asking that they make their decision by Feb. 1, with the first installment received by March. She said the Eversons are about to make their first grant payment.
“I will bring it up at a council meeting on February 1.” Martins Ferry Major John Davies. “I will report the situation to the City Council and see what they think.” It all depends on them.”
Frank Papini of St. Clairsville also submitted the proposal to the St. Louis City Council.