New Ferry park board member sworn in

Davies, left, shakes hands with new Martins Ferry Park Board District member Jim Howard after swearing him in at the city’s Recreation Center.

MARTINS FERRY — Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Al Davies recently visited the Purple City to swear in new Martins Ferry Park Board District member Jim Howard.

Howard will serve a three-year term and is replacing long-time member Larry Deaton, who retired from the post in December. Howard’s wife, Bobbi Howard, is the pool manager at the Martins Ferry Recreation Center.

Before swearing in Jim Howard, Davies said he has been traveling around the county to conduct swear-in ceremonies and has met a lot of new people as a result.

“I had no idea there were so many park districts in Belmont County,” Davies said. “Also, it’s been really refreshing. I’m sure it’s the same with this group — it’s a bunch of dedicated officials who are really looking out for the community, who are really looking out for the park, the kids and the families. I’ve been enjoying this.”

He noted that, to date, he’s been to parks in Bethesda and St. Clairsville, among others.

“I’ve traveled the county to six different spots and I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you for all your efforts,” he said.

In addition to Howard, Martins Ferry park board members include President Kevin Neavin, Mary Ann Domyan, Scott Ballint and Bobbi Howard, who is secretary. Park board members serve voluntarily and do not get paid for their work.

Prior to Howard’s swearing in, Domyan took the opportunity to explain to Davies how difficult it can be run the park district with limited funds. She said all park board districts in the county — no matter what their size — receive the same amount of money, about $13,000 annually. In Martins Ferry, the city owns the Recreation Center and swimming pool, City Park and two ball fields.

“We try to stretch it, but a lot of it is volunteer,” Domyan said.

Efforts to keep the pool in operation continue. The city, with help from the Ohio Mideastern Governments Association, recently applied for a Land and Water Conservation grant that would help pay for repairs to the pool’s filter house if it is awarded. This same grant also would provide money for the construction of a new splash pad, which would be located where the baby pool once was situated.

The city had to submit an application to apply for a minimum of $100,000 in funding, which is why the splash pad was included in the application. The city is expected to cover $75,000 of the cost, while the grant would cover another $75,000.

Repairs to the pool filter house, which is where the water is treated and dispersed from, are expected to cost $92,000. The splash pad is expected to cost about another $60,000.

The city anticipates learning whether it will receive the grant in June or July. In the meantime, the pool will still reopen this summer.

“If we get the grant we’re going to be able to put in a 360-square-foot splash pad for children, handicapped, everyone,” Service Director Scott Porter said. “That will give you guys something different to have and actually lower our costs to repair the filter house.”