County fair welcomed

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Board of Commissioners officiated during the ribbon-cutting at the Belmont County Fair after their regular meeting Wednesday, but their business session included several updates about ongoing projects.

The officials also commented about their role in the fair and its importance to the community. Commissioner Mark Thomas said county officials were happy to join the community and volunteers in support of the fair.

“We’re proud to attend the opening ceremonies today in what is a long-time Belmont County tradition,” he said. “This is the ninth year at the new site, and as each year goes by we have continued growth, new buildings, new opportunities, new infrastructure, so we’re proud to be a part of it. I think the biggest benefit and the main reason for people to support our fair is to support our children, many of whom work all year to get ready to show their animals. It’s very impressive to see the youth of Belmont County working prior to the fair at the fair.”

Commissioner J.P. Dutton reflected on playing a role in officiating the fair after many years of participating in the event.

“As a long-time resident I’ve spent a lot of time at the fair, and as a former 4-H (member) I spent a lot of time at the prior site and at the new site. It’s a testament to the volunteers and how much they’ve gradually improved the site year-to-year, and it’s really a great location for our county to have our fair. Hopefully a lot of folks come out this weekend. The weather looks like it’s going to be beneficial for all. Come enjoy the fair,” Dutton said.

Commissioner Josh Meyer agreed.

“It’s exciting to be a part of the opening ceremonies for the fair. It’s a great thing for the kids of the county, and the facilities are fantastic. It’s a great place to visit this time of year.”

Guests at the meeting included Richard Hord of Martins Ferry, who commented on the retirement of Barb Blake, fiscal officer for the commissioners. Hord asked when the position might be filled. Dutton said the commissioners have not set a timetable for her replacement.

“The staff will take part of the job and we’ll work together during the transition,” Dutton said.

Thomas added that County Auditor Andrew Sutak and his staff will also share some of the duties.

“It all comes back to working together, separate offices for one common goal,” he said. “We have an amazing staff here in this office, and we will get the job done.”

Hord also inquired about an update on Barnesville’s industrial park. Port Authority Director Larry Merry said a fourth building is being completed at the park site.

Merry added that the incoming Shell ethane cracker plant in Monaca, Pa., will impact the local community.

“We need to be prepared for that, because that is a project that’s under construction, so we continue working with the commissioners to prepare Belmont County and the valley for growth, which is going to happen,” he said.

The commissioners also officially announced the completion of the renovation of the exterior courthouse. The $2.2 million project began last September and was funded by Belmont County’s share of revenue generated by casinos in the Buckeye State.