It’s all about ‘Staying Clean’

Car show on Saturday to help student club

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON MARTINS FERRY police Chief John McFarland, left, and Sgt. Jerry Murphy display a flyer advertising this Saturday’s Belmont County Schools Staying Clean Club’s Car, Bike and Truck Show at the Ohio Valley Mall parking lot. The event begins at 11 a.m. with registration starting at 10:30 a.m.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — More than $43,000 already has been raised for the Belmont County Schools Staying Clean Club in advance of the group’s annual car show set for Saturday.

Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland, who helps coordinate the club, said dozens of local businesses and individuals have provided donations to sponsor the event, raising $43,275.

The Belmont County Schools Staying Clean Club’s Car Bike and Truck Show is slated from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Ohio Valley Mall parking lot in St. Clairsville.

Registration and judging will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Trophies will be awarded in multiple categories by independent judges. Two trophies will be awarded by students.

Dash plaques will be given to the first 250 cars to register. And free T-shirts will be given to student drug-free club members.

McFarland said the money is used not only for drug testing throughout the school year, but for incentives to stay in the program including an annual picnic and gift cards.

The money also has helped expand the program into middle schools.

Last year’s car show raised more than $22,000 for the club. McFarland thanked Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato and his staff for all their help, in addition to Wheeling Hospital’s laboratory for analyzing the urine samples.

“Judge Fregiato has done an outstanding job,” McFarland said. “When we first started, we struggled. Wheeling Hospital, without their help it would be difficult to have this program.”

With the opioid epidemic still having a major impact on the Ohio Valley, such a club is important now more than ever.

“If you go back 15 to 20 years ago, a lot of it was taking place in low income housing areas,” McFarland said of drugs. “Now it’s everywhere. … We’ve been on farming roads making drug busts. … It’s absolutely everywhere.”

McFarland, who also co-heads the Belmont County Drug Task Force, said he has had graduates tell him how the drug free club helped them. Some have told him when they were approached by their peers about doing drugs, they were able to tell those people “no” because they did not want to fail their drug tests.

“That’s big to us,” McFarland said.

Last year, 3,128 drug tests were conducted. If a student tests positive for something, a volunteer with the program speaks to that child’s parents. McFarland said he is never informed of the results. The parents are given options and ideas on how to get their child help.

“We had 1,400 kids in the program last year,” he said. “We hope to have 4,000 or more this year.”