Officials discuss security for area’s Ogden Race

WHEELING – New security measures are in place for the 37th-annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Run and Walk, race Director R. ”Scat” Scatterday said.

Local law enforcement officials gathered with Scatterday last week to discuss race security in light of the Boston Marathon bombings. The race and events surrounding it are set for May 24-25 downtown.

“From now on, the rules are different,” Scatterday said. “We’re setting the bar high from now on for outdoor events like this in the city.”

Among those discussing security with Scatterday were Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger, Deputy Chief Martin Kimball, Assistant Fire Chief Ed Geisel, Wheeling Operations Superintendent Tim Birch and City Manager Robert Herron.

Moundsville Police Chief Tom Mitchell and retired Wheeling police officer Randy Rejonis, who have directed race security in the past, also attended, and the Wheeling-Ohio County Emergency Management Agency and Ohio County Sheriff’s Department are assisting with the security plan, as well.

During last week’s meeting, officials studied a map of downtown and the race course. They identified areas of concern, imagined possible scenarios and developed counter measures.

The plan is highlighted by a designated ”secure zone” – a multi-block triangle surrounding the start-finish line at 14th and Main streets. The three points of the secure zone are formed by the intersections of 14th and Market streets, 12th and Water streets and Main and South streets.

Beginning at 3:30 p.m. on May 24, and continuing through 10:30 a.m. May 25, no bags or packages will be permitted in that area, which will be continuously monitored by law enforcement.

The Wheeling Police Department also is offering security training to the 500-plus race volunteers, including aide stations workers, radio communications operators and course marshals.

This was Schwertfeger’s first time providing input into security for the Ogden Half Marathon, but he did the same for the Charlottesville Marathon at his previous law enforcement post in Virginia.

He said he was impressed with local organizers’ initiative and urgency in providing safety and a visible law enforcement presence.

The chief acknowledged the level of security in downtown Wheeling on race weekend is easily justified, as today’s society necessitates constant vigilance.

“Shame on us if we do not plan and deploy the resources that we have and something were to happen,” Schwertfeger said. “We just can’t pass it off anymore.”

Added Scatterday: “We’ve owned this city, we own it now and we intend to own it in the future.”