Two levies highlight Belmont ballot

THE FILING deadline for the Nov. 6 general election came and went Wednesday.

The Belmont County ballot is well-stocked with levies. Two of those money requests drew my attention.

First, Belmont County Senior Services is seeking a 1-mill renewal levy for five years. Renewals are often times receptive to voters. Senior citizen issues also have a warm place in Belmont County voters’ hearts.

The lone hurdle this levy must clear, as I see it, is the spending spree Belmont County Commissioners Matt Coffland and Chuck Probst and Department Jobs & Family Services Director Dwayne Pielech went on recently.

The trio opted to approve a costly promotion while also creating an information officer’s position, never needed previously. That salary alone hovers in the $40,000 range. The moves were opposed, and rightly so, by Commissioner Ginny Favede.

Despite the reckless spending, I believe the levy should, and will, gain passage.

THE BELLAIRE School District returns for a fifth try at gaining extra operating money. This time in the form of an 8.72-mill levy. It has been twice rejected as a 1-percent personal income tax and on two other occasions as a 12.9-mill levy.

The Bellaire School District’s financial plight has been well documented. Cuts have been extensive and painful. Some 30-40 employees have seen their positions eliminated.

An 8.72-mill levy will be an easier sale than the previous ill-fated attempts. But any levy faces tough sledding. In Bellaire, many times that task is an uphill struggle.

Much of the talk coming out of the Bellaire Local School District recently did not deal with the levy, but rather Superintendent Tony Scott and the board of education. Scott has come under fire by at least one media outlet for his retirement and subsequent rehiring at the same $83,500 salary which bumps his total package in the $140,000 neighborhood.

Moreover, Scott and BOE members were called out for their refusal to discuss the situation. The district was also blasted for reportedly failing to provide minutes of board meetings.

That being the case, I stopped into the Bellaire administrative offices Friday afternoon.

I had the opportunity to meet Fiscal Officer Cathy Moore who supplied me with all the board meeting minutes I requested. I commend her for her professionalism. One board member told me she is a gem.

Scott then, without hesitation, invited me in for a one-on-one session, in which he answered everything asked of him.

He didn’t shy away from the salary figures.

“I do make $83,500 and the retirement package is legal, something I have earned and an issue the board has no problems with,” Scott said. “That $83,500 is much less than many Belmont County superintendents are making.

“Many people do not realize that we used to have nine administrators in the district. We now have four. I am responsible for picking up some of that work,” he added. “We also previously had three administrators in the central office. That number is now one (Scott).”

I had previously asked one board member why rehire Scott at full salary?

“He walked into a situation several years ago where he was blindsided. Shortly after taking the job, he was told that the district is in financial emergency,” the BOE member said. “Tony has worked hard to reduce our deficit and isn’t afraid of making tough decisions.

“He understands what we are up against and has experience with the state oversight committee. If we brought someone else in, it would take years to get up and running,” he added. “The board is very pleased with Tony’s performance.”


JUSTIN KROPKA has some company. The Harrison Central football coach is not the lone head coaching minister in the Ohio Valley. Casey Tolzda, newly named head boys’ basketball coach at Beallsville High, is quite active in the ministry as well. So much so, he is involved in a series of Gospel meetings at the Captina Church of Christ, located on Ohio 556 in Beallsville. The series runs from Aug. 20-24 beginning nightly at 7:30 Brother Mo Hafley will be featured. The church is located nine miles from Clarington on the right side of Ohio 556. Those coming from Woodsfield are directed to proceed straight at the four-way stop. Ohio 145 turns into Ohio 556 at the Convenient. Then travel 4.5 miles and the building is located on the left side. For more information or directions, contact Tolzda at 740-213-1043.

LOVE HIM or hate him, WVU fans you are stuck with him. Dana Holgorsen just inked a new six-year deal as Mountaineers’ head grid guru. Even if he should prove ultra-successful with WVU, he won’t be going anywhere, as his off-the-field social antics make him a high-risk hire.

WE WISH a speedy and full recovery to Alexa Isaly. The former River High hoop standout suffered some nasty injuries while working on a construction site recently. Isaly fell from a roof, incurring a broken wrist and several broken fingers. After a short hospital stay, Alexa is recovering now at home.

CONGRATULATIONS TO Michael Ferns. The St. Clairsville grid star ended months of speculation and recruitment by selecting the University of Michigan to continue his grid career in two years. In my 34 years of covering sports at the Times Leader, he is by my accounts the most heavily recruited local gridder since Tim Spencer, dating back to 1978. I was fortunate enough to cover Tim’s final game as a Red Devil. St. C. played at Cambridge and I sat between a scout from Kentucky and a scout from Notre Dame. We wish Michael nothing but the best as he is a classy a student-athlete as we have encountered in many a year.

WE ARE only 11 days away from the start of the high school football season. Don’t miss our annual Pigskin Preview which will be available Tuesday, Aug. 21. It promises to be our best ever.

Kapral may be reached at