Belmont County awaits new sheriff

THERE IS a new sheriff in town. Well, almost.

Belmont County will welcome a new sheriff come next year. That is a certainty after Dick Flanagan defeated incumbent Fred Thompson in the Democratic primary Tuesday. He did so in sizable fashion, garnering 55 percent of the vote.

Flanagan is no newcomer to law enforcement. He has 18 years of service with the Bellaire Police Department. The former St. John Central football star is especially well versed in busting drug dealers.

Flanagan campaigned tirelessly in grabbing the primary win. His election work has not come to fruition yet as he has a November general election foe in Dave Lucas, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary Tuesday.

Lucas ran unsuccessfully four years ago as a Democrat, losing to Thompson in the primary. He opted to switch parties in his latest bid for office.

Belmont County, with its heavily Democratic flavor, weighs big in Flanagan’s favor.

SPEAKING of the election, it wasn’t a good time to place a school levy on the ballot in Jefferson County.

The Edison and Indian Creek school districts and the JVS all had funding issues rejected.

Indian Creek saw its hopes for a new high school go down the drain. The much-needed facility would have cost $22 million with the state supplying $7 million of that total.

Edison, meanwhile, was looking for approval of a 9-mill levy just to keep operating at current levels. Now major cutbacks will take effect, such as staff reductions, wage cuts, no high school busing and pay-to-play for athletics. It’s safe to say the district is in dire straits, with no relief in sight.

It’s a shame students in Eastern Ohio are so shortchanged because of unfair school-funding methods.


WITH?THE return of Daylight Savings Time today, it is also wise to change the batteries in your smoke detectors.?It could prove a life-saving move.

JACOB MATUSKA has made his choice. Columbus Bishop Hartley’s highly recruited junior tight end has verbally committed to Notre Dame. The 6 ft. 5, 245-pounder spurned offers from the likes of Ohio State, Oklahoma and Nebraska in selecting the Golden Dome. Jacob’s parents are both St. John Central graduates, Jim and Beth (Bierkortte) Matuska. Jim was a three-sport standout at SJC in the 1980s. Jacob has enjoyed a stellar career at Hartley. He was a major factor in the Hawks winning the Division IV state grid title in 2010 and leading them to the State Basketball Final Four the same year. Jacob came up big again this past grid season, helping Hartley to 12 straight wins before falling in the regional finals. He is also a standout linebacker but desires to be a tight end in college.

THE BELMONT County Council of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary is preparing to make its annual goodwill junket to the Chillicothe Veterans Hospital. This year, the auxiliary mission is set for Thursday, April 19. The ladies are looking for donations to take to the veterans currently in the hospital’s care. Items such as crew socks, t-shirts, shorts, tablets, pencils, stationary, pens, candy, gums, chips and Slim Jim are helpful. The auxiliary will also accept house slippers, stamps, caps, new puzzles, toiletries and good clothing. No drying-cleaning clothing will be accepted. Monetary donations will be accepted. Donations may be dropped off to Betty Kotson at 4598 Noble St. in Bellaire. She may be reached at 671-3059.

THE INDY Colts severed tied with the face of their franchise last week, cutting Peyton Manning to save $28 million. I think Colts’ owner Jim Irsay is off the wall to jettison one of the NFL’s all-time greats. Reports indicate that Manning is healing nicely from multiple neck surgeries and should be ready to go for the 2012 season. If that is the case, Irsay needed to keep Manning to help groom Andrew Luck. My guess is that Peyton ends up in Miami.

WE WISH Kim Clifford and his St. Clairsville Red Devils the best of luck in their regional test against Chillicothe Thursday at Athens. It is a tall test but one we feel the Red Devils are primed for.

THE SWITZERLAND of Ohio Board of Education will likely decide at its meeting Thursday the fate of Skyvue Elementary School. At issue is whether to remodel the current facility or to build a new school. I say go for a new school anytime you can.

BARNESVILLE MIDDLE School will be hosting its Second Annual March Madness Staff vs. Students basketball game Tuesday, sponsored by Rachel’s Challenge. The event begins at 7 p.m. All tickets are $2 to enter and there will be refreshments for sale at the event. At halftime, there will be donations presented to families/organizations chosen by Rachel’s Challenge Chain Link Club. There will also be a 3-point contest for a $1.

I HAVE said for years that Ohio University Eastern is a mecca for basketball, especially in the post-season, much like St. John Arena in Steubenville was in years past. OUE played host to more tourney games this season than ever before, meeting with much success under the auspices of OUE Athletic Director E.J. Schodzinski and Tournament Director Mark Cook. The games and crowds both were superb. Not to be overlooked in making things run smoothly is venue security. OUE utilized Shield Investigations & Security, LLC of St. Clairsville. Joseph Mayhugh is the firm’s administrator. Shield’s employees did a professional job of keeping people from places where they were forbidden while also quieting a large and volatile East Liverpool fanbase after the Potters’ loss to St. Clairsville Thursday.

ONE?OF?the most exciting sporting events of the year begins today with the unveiling of the brackets for the NCAA Division?I men’s basketball tournament, better known as March Madness. I look for Ohio State to slip into a number two seed. Kentucky will be the favorite heading into the tourney.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader