Drilling assists another school district

SHALE OIL money has again made its presence felt in pumping up local school budgets.

This time, Buckeye Local was the beneficiary.

The school district received $800,000 recently from a leasing agreement. Buckeye is not the lone Eastern Ohio school district to receive such a windfall, just the most recent.

The $800,000 will enable the district to buy some big-ticket items not available otherwise. The Buckeye Local BOE, by a 4-1 vote with Joe Zelek in dissent, proceeded with the purchase of three new full-size buses and two smaller transportation vans.

Money was also proposed for the purchase of needed technology ($300,000), purchase of new math and English textbooks for the elementary students; $200,000 for planned roof repairs at the high school; and earmarking $10,000 for remodeling a single open area there into individual classrooms.

All the aforementioned expenditures are prudent ones, not possible in the near future if not for shale drilling money.

State funding for public schools will never be right or fair. Our local schools will always get shortchanged.

That is why oil and gas holds the key to financial survival for Eastern Ohio schools.

Martins Ferry and Union Local have both reached drilling deals, netting each district hundreds of thousands of much-needed revenue.

I had a nice talk with Switzerland of Ohio Superintendent Larry Elliott Friday afternoon. Despite his demanding job, he is always more than accommodating.

He said he has been in contract talks looking to secure a lease accord, but nothing has come to fruition yet. Elliott said he will continue efforts in landing a deal. The affable superintendent says the district has some 300 acres that are available.

Elliott did say the district does have old-fashioned wells on Skyvue and Woodsfield property, but they yield just nominal revenue.

Switzerland of Ohio is one district in dire need of a funding influx, as extensive cuts are looming. Leasing out 300 acres would ease many of the district’s woes.

I talked to Barnesville Superintendent Rusty Lucas at the Shamrocks’ football game Friday night. He said his district also has had some talks with various companies but no deal is close to becoming a reality. Lucas said the district has only about 50 acres available.

The Village of Barnesville, meanwhile, just landed a $6 million leasing gusher.

Attempts to contact Dr. George Ash, Harrison Hills superintendent, proved futile.

Bellaire, Bridgeport and Shadyside school districts, unfortunately, are basically landlocked and don’t have the luxury of lucrative leasing rights.

While some Ohio Valley residents may have doubts about the oil and gas burgeoning industry, it has the potential to be an economic savior.


I UNDERSTAND the NFL is a mega-business and it is the nation’s most popular sport, but how many times can the media keep harping on a blown call? Yes, the replacement officials blew the final play in the Seahawks’ tainted win over the Packers, but that is what you get with officials not capable of getting the job done. I must have seen the replay 50 times Monday alone. Let it go. It was an atrocious call, one of many made by the now-defunct replacement officials. Monday’s gaffe was high profile because it was the final play and it decided the outcome.

WEST VIRGINIA Department of Highways officials must like to torture motorists. How else can you explain having major projects being conducted on Interstate 70 and Interstate 470 simultaneously. Drivers encountered nightmares last week, attempting to exit or enter Wheeling. Fortunately, the DOH has opted to suspend the I-470 work until the I-70 project is completed.

PRESIDENT OBAMA is extending his poll lead against Mitt Romney. The latest numbers I heard were 52-44 nationwide for Obama. With the economy still struggling, the key issue is obviously liability.

NOTICE TO all political candidates: The Times Leader will be publishing our election section on Sunday, Oct. 21. It will be a comprehensive look at local, state and national issues, providing our readers what they need to know before they cast their ballots. It is also a great vehicle for candidates to advertise to help champion their cause.

CONGRATULATIONS TO John Magistro on his 200th (now 201) career win achieved in week five as Westerville Central defeated Worthington Kilbourne, 29-17. The Warhawks followed that up with a win over Hilliard Bradley this past Friday. Magistro has weaved remarkable careers at both Bellaire and Westerville Central. He cut his coaching teeth back in the 1970s as freshman coach at his alma mater, St. John Central. I was fortunate enough to be a member of that inaugural squad. We went 2-2-2. Even despite his youthfulness back then, Magistro exhibited all the attributes great coaches possess. All his success is richly deserved, as he has handled himself with class every step of the way.

STATE REP. Al Landis (R-Dover) announced the State Controlling Board has approved the release of capital funds in the amount of $175,000 for costs associated with the completion of public roadwork improvements in Harrison County. The project is in support for Rosebud Mining, resulting in the creation of 45 new full-time jobs. Rosebud Mining will be investing over $12 million to open a new deep coal mining operation in Harrison County.

I LIKE what Barnesville High does for its home football games. That being bringing back former Shamrock grid standouts to serve as honorary captains for that night’s contest. This Friday, Sam Reynolds was the honoree. He was a guard and linebacker for Coach John Hutchinson, lettering from 1972-74. He was selected an all-OVAC and all-district first team selection his senior season. Reynolds also played in the OVAC All-Star Game. Reynolds went on to play fours years of collegiate football at Marietta College. He now resides in Knoxville, Tenn. and is CEO of Vinlex Corp.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com