County official speaks with forked tongue

LAST WEEK’S column apparently struck a nerve with one Belmont County department head.

I penned that the Senior Services levy will face tougher passage due to the frivolous spending of Commissioners Matt Coffland and Chuck Probst upon the recommendation of Department of Jobs & Family Services Director Dwayne Pielech. The trio approved a costly promotion while also creating an information officer’s position, never needed previously. That salary alone hovers in the $40,000 range. The job was never publicly posted.

The costly moves were opposed by Commissioner Ginny Favede.

Commissioner Coffland phoned me early in the week, saying he was just following Pielech’s recommendation. The commissioner was quite congenial in our discussion.

Pielech, meanwhile, took to the airwaves, attempting to stamp out the spending fire on the Dave Blomquist radio show.

Unfortunately, Pielech provided Bloom Daddy and his listeners some bogus information.

Pielech said on air that the position was not posted because the managing editor of the Times Leader was interested as well as a reporter from our sister paper the Intellingencer.

I can’t speak for the Intell reporter, but I know the Times Leader managing editor very well, since he is I. Pielech is totally misspeaking when saying I was interested in the job. It was a feeble attempt to cover his tracks.

The hiring also drew the ire of many DJFS employees who contacted me. They were upset they didn’t know about it and also that their salaries pale in comparison to the new information position.

Speaking of salaries, Pielech’s county compensation is in six figures. Someone making that much money should be able to get their story straight.



THE BELLAIRE Chamber of Commerce conducted its monthly luncheon Thursday in the basement of the village library.

President Lou Ann Bennett happily reported that more then $900 in donations has been received for the Christmas light fundraising project. The chamber is raising funds to replace bulbs in the village’s Christmas decorations with LED bulbs. Anyone wishing to help the cause should contact the chamber at 676-9723.

Bennett also reported that the always popular Boo In The Park will be held Oct. 23 and sponsors are needed.

Some 600 youths were treated last year.

A Cashland official announced the company is moving from its south Bellaire building to the former Westy’s grocery store on 38th Street in the near future.

Rigas Restaurant donated the lunch, which was excellent.


BELMONT COUNTY Northern Division Court Judge Frank Fregiato has released the schedule for his live court appearances for Belmont County high schools for the 2012-13 school year.

Judge Fregiato initiated this program at Martins Ferry High School in 1997 to demonstrate to students there are consequences for their actions. It became so popular that Judge Fregiato expanded the program to hold a live court at every Belmont County high school. Judge Fregiato’s program is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. Judge Fregiato believes live court has been a huge success in educating students. He plans to continue the program for the indefinite future.

This year’s schedule is as follows: Bellaire and St. John Central, Oct. 5; Shadyside, Nov. 2; St. Clairsville, Dec. 7; Bridgeport, Feb. 1; Martins Ferry, March 1; Barnesville, April 5; and Union Local, May 3.


HIGH SCHOOL football has arrived in the Ohio Valley. You are invited to join us Tuesday at the Times Leader parking lot for our annual Kickoff Tailgate party from 11:30 to 2 p.m. Treat yourself to lunch, pick up our pigskin preview and help a great cause in the process — Newspapers in Education.

CONGRATULATIONS GO out to Times Leader staffer Glynis Valenti. She was recognized as being named to the 2012 Ohio School Boards Association Media Honor Roll for “providing fair and balanced reporting and valuable information to the community about the Union Local School District.”

MARTINS FERRY Service Director Chuck Bennett notes that the city’s street sweeper is repaired and will be back on the streets Monday.

I WAS surprised when I received a call from David Trouten Monday saying he was dropping out of the race for Western Division Court judge. David is a class act and super family man. He ran well in his bid for the Eastern Division Court judicial post. I am not privy to the reasons for his decision, but I do know that David has all the ingredients to make a quality judge in the future.

THE PROPOSED demolition of the Bellaire Toll Bridge was given another hurdle to clear last week. Benwood City Council has mandated that Delta Demolitions — the latest bridge owner — to establish a $500,000 escrow account that contains only the city’s name on it. Should Delta not complete the work in six months, Benwood keeps the cash. Benwood is wise to make such a demand and just another reason supporting my claim the bridge will never come down.

KUDOS TO?Dan?Frizzi?Jr. and all those who helped make the inaugural viaduct celebration a rousing success in Bellaire Saturday. I hope it becomes an annual event.

Kapral may be reached at