Martins Ferry schools put teeth into teaching

Learning isn’t confined to the classroom. Nor does it need to be taught by a human.

That premise was reinforced Thursday at the Martin Ferry High track complex. Nearly 500 Ferry High students were treated to an enjoyable biting lesson.

Ecko, Martins Ferry’s new canine officer, displayed his crime-fighting skills with the help of high school assistant principal Ken Woodford.

Illegal drugs of different varieties were hidden in various places in an SUV. Ecko was successful every time in sniffing out the contraband. The added beauty to his prowess is that he doesn’t rip up the vehicle like other K-9 dogs; rather he just sits at the spot where he located the drugs.

The grand finale was Woodford donning an attack suit. He was cast as a suspect attempting to flee the scene. Ecko was given the command to track him down. It didn’t take long as Ecko can crank it up to 40 mph.

Woody is a former Ferry grid star and a strong man. However, he was no match for Ecko, who latched on to his arm and pulled him to the ground with ease, before beginning to maul him.

Chad Kuhn, a Ferry police officer and Ecko handler, quickly halted the assault, with Woody being unscathed due to the heavy protection. The scenario did show it would be futile to attempt to outrun the fleeted-footed four-legged officer.

What sealed the deal was the question and answer session which followed Ecko’s attack on Woody. The high school students must have asked at least 20 meaningful questions. They took it very seriously, as the anti-drug message apparently hit home.

The presentation is being repeated this week for more Ferry students.

It is a program that should be presented to all Ohio Valley students.


TIMING IS everything. Buckeye Local recently received $800,000 in gas and oil drilling money.

It was a great financial boost to the school district. The board of education made prudent use of the money, opting to purchase school buses and upgrade technology.

The district also has a 2-mill levy permanent improvement levy on the Nov. 6 ballot. It is targeted, according to a campaign brochure, to “upgrade existing buildings, books & technology and replacing and maintaining an aging bus fleet.”

As a result, I have received a few letters from individuals wondering why the levy is still needed after the $800K windfall.

I am not a Buckeye local voter, but I think 2 mills is a small price to pay for improving your schools. I don’t believe the $800K or the levy individually is a complete financial cure-all for all the district’s needs. Packaging them together gives district officials an ability to do some impactful upgrades.

I had the opportunity to sit with Edison Superintendent Bill Beattie at last week’s Edison’s football game with Martins Ferry. He said his district has a 9-mill levy on the ballot. Even if it passes, the levy will not get the district totally out of debt.

Point being: Local schools will never have too much money in their coffers.


THE ST. Clairsville Athletic Hall of Fame added some gems last weekend.

Chester Lagod (Class of 1945) was before my time but the other three Red Devils were truly special student-athletes and most deserving of HOF induction. They are Jeff Rice, Milene Chorovich and Jeff Mowrey.

I still regard Jeff Rice as the second best Red Devils’ running back I have witnessed, behind legendary Tim Spencer. Rice gained almost 1,900 yards and 29 TDs in a 10-game senior season before signing with WVU. Playoffs were not in existence back then.

Chorovich, meanwhile, is on the short list of best all-around female athletes in valley annals while Mowrey was one of the standouts on the Red Devil powerhouse grid teams of Mike Young, which also featured Darren Dombroski, Brian Bean and Willie Heath.


UPWARD SPORTS in Martins Ferry will be holding basketball and cheerleading sign-ups and evaluations for grades K-second on Monday, Oct. 22, from 5-9 p.m. and for third through sixth grade on Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 5-9 p.m. Make-up evaluations will be on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All evaluations will take place at Ayers Elementary School in Martins Ferry. The Upwards Sports maiden voyage last year in Ferry was an overwhelming success story. We commend the league organizers and volunteers for providing such a worthwhile program for local youths.

MITT ROMNEY and Barack Obama have each spent $1 billion so far in their quest for the White House. What a misuse of money. With all the poverty issues in this country, much of those political war-chests could have helped thousands and thousands of people in need. Instead, we have had to listen and look at political rhetoric for much too long.

SPEAKING OF the Nov. 6 election, today is the final day we publish elected-related letters to the editor. If you submitted a letter and it did not run it was either late arriving, had no name or phone number attached or it was totally out of line. I credit our letter writers, as we published more than 80 letters this past week alone. Now hopefully, such political interest triggers a huge turnout at the polls.

APPARENTLY SOME people in Bellaire are not happy with Electronics Recycling Service, located in the village’s First Ward. They claim it is an eyesore. I say it is a big shot-in-the-arm for Bellaire’s economy. ERS is doing unbelievable business and employs 40 people already, with more hirings likely. If you ask me, we could use a few more eyesores like ERS.

Kapral may be reached at