Belmont Drug Task Force gets donation

ST. CLAIRSVILLE The Belmont County Commissioners showed some added support for the county’s drug task force during their Wednesday meeting with a donation of $6,500. The funds will be transferred from the general fund to the prosecutor’s office, and there to the task force.

Commissioner Charles R. Probst Jr. acknowledged the problem of drug dealing in the area and added that drug related crimes impact on too many lives. He complimented the task force members on their dedication and effectiveness.

“We are willing to do whatever we can to combat the war on drugs,” he said. “We want the drug dealers to realize that if they’re going to do this in Belmont County there’s going to be somebody looking over their shoulder. They’re going to be dealt with.”

He added that the commissioners hope to make a yearly donation of this kind for as long as is feasible.

Commissioner Ginny Favede noted the effect of drugs on the county’s children. She commended the officers for going above and beyond the call of duty in their commitment to the communities they serve.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to assist you,” she said.

Commissioner Matt Coffland added that efforts to stymie drug activity might reduce a host of related theft crimes.

Prosecutor Chris Berhalter said this donation would make a difference in the task force’s operations. He pointed out the task force’s considerable effectiveness in the five years since it was formed.

“What they’ve accomplished in that short period of time is nothing short of amazing,” Berhalter said. “They’ve done it on a shoestring budget.”

He added that each police department has cooperated to make the program a reality.

“With your help, they’re going to be able to do even more, and what that does is make our county even safer,” he said. “Thank you, it does make a difference.”

Martins Ferry Police Chief and Task Force Commander John McFarland thanked commissioners, noting the widespread and serious issues of drug related crimes around the county. He added there was a current focus on the misuse of prescription drugs.

“It affects every community,” he said, adding that he hoped to deliver a more detailed account of the investigation process. “The donation will be a giant help to our investigations.”

About a dozen officers from different agencies are involved in the task force.

St. Clairsville Police Chief Martin Kendzora complimented McFarland for taking up the reins of the task force after the passing of Bethesda Police Chief and prior Commander Tim Zdanski.

“We were fortunate that Chief Zdanski spearheaded this organization and we’re thankful once again to have Chief McFarland. I know he’ll do a tremendous job.”

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