Coat closet gains new lease on life

SANTA CLAUS arrived at a local coat closet in the form of a Morgantown-based company.

DPS Penn — a drilling leasing firm — breathed new life into the Belmont County Coat Closet. If not for DPS Penn’s generosity, the closet would have ceased to exist.

DPS has an office in St. Clairsville.

The coat closet is located on Belmont Street, near Bellaire High School. Margaret Paolucci, with the help of several volunteers, oversees the operations.

Paolucci informed me earlier in the week that the coat closet was shutting down as it had no funds to continue to champion its humanitarian efforts.

That all changed a few days later.

Paolucci said she received a call from a DPS Penn spokesperson, saying the firm collected 60 coats from the Festival of Trees and the Christmas parade in Wheeling. The DPS Penn spokesperson also asked if there was anything the coat closet may need.

Paolucci said a donation would help. After a few minute delay, DPS Penn anted up $5,000 to keep the coat closet doing its good work… and what good work the organization does.

Before running out of money this season, the Belmont County Coat Closet handed out nearly 700 coats. In addition, Paolucci said between 100-200 individuals had to be turned away as the resources were not available to help them.

In its 10 years of existence, the coat closet has easily distributed several thousands of coats.

Paolucci also praised the work of Karen Kahl, Wanda Craig and Shaunna Walker for making the coat closet a success.

The Belmont Savings Bank and the Ohio Valley Christian Soldiers also made donations earlier this year.

Anyone needing additional information, may contact Paolucci at 676-5077.


THE BELLAIRE Chamber of Commerce held its final meeting of the year Thursday. Treasurer Adam Hughes reported that the chamber is ending the year on its best financial footing in many years. Chamber President Lou Ann Bennett noted the All-American Town’s Christmas parade was deemed a huge success. She said several business stayed open for the nighttime event which led to much more activity. Bennett also added the chamber will be involved with the Oil & Gas Expo planned for April 2, sponsored by the Belmont County Port Authority.

BELLAIRE AND Martins Ferry school districts are each losing quality and veteran board of education members. Cindy Bruney (Martins Ferry) and Stanley Stein (Bellaire) opted not to seek re-election after long tours of board duty. Bruney and Stein brought passion, vision and caring to their respective boards. They leave large shoes to fill.

THE FATE of the Bellaire Toll Bridge was again in the news this past week. Now that the court-imposed Dec. 21, 2011 deadline for razing of the span is impossible to meet, a request for an extension is being sought, an extension I still contend will never come to demolition fruition.

IT WAS heartwarming to see the results of last week’s Times Leader online poll. The question was “Do you donate to the needy during the Christmas season?” Eighty percent of the responders say they do. If those numbers are truly accurate, it speaks volumes for the character of Ohio Valley residents. For those who have not aided the cause, you still have six days to make a huge difference for someone in need.

I WOULD like to personally thank the Barnesville Board of Education and District Superintendent Randy Lucas for their presentation to me Thursday of an OSBA Media Award for positive, fair and comprehensive news reporting. Coming from a superintendent for whom I have deep respect for and a school board that has the district on solid ground adds even more significance to the award.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader