Drug task force making a difference

I AM anti-drug as they come. I have never had an illegal substance in my body and never will.

That is why I love what the Belmont County Drug Task Force is doing.

It was brought into existence by the late Tim Zdanski of Bethesda. Upon his death, Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland assumed the leadership post and he’s taken the ball and ran with it … quite impressively, I might add.

The task force is a combined coalition of officers from various law enforcement agencies throughout Belmont County. They offer their services to take a bite out of the Eastern Ohio drug scene.

Under McFarland’s guidance, the force has made countless arrests the last few months, many of the sizable nature.

The task force is conquering a new drug frontier — that being synthetic marijuana. The unit busted two more local establishments Friday along with their owner on trafficking charges.

The arrests come on the heels of a similar drug sweep at businesses in St. Clairsville, Shadyside and Bridgeport. Synthetic marijuana was again the drug in question.

The businesses that have felt the task force’s wrath did so despite a warning from Belmont County Prosecutor Chris Berhalter to quit selling the substance.

Synthetic marijuana is the latest kid on the drug block. The task force and prosecutor, however, appear up for the challenge.

If Belmont County businesses continue to sell it, it’s a safe bet arrests will follow.


I AM not a person to just sit and watch television for hours on end.

That changed Thursday with the onset of The Masters. The four-day golfing spectacular is one of the premier sporting events of the year.

I picked Dustin Johnson to win and it was a great choice for about 27 holes before he went belly up. Regardless of who wins — I would not count out Tiger Woods — the story of the tournament was scripted by an eighth grader.

Guan Tianlang is 14 from China. He qualified by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur. He shot a one-over par Thursday and followed with a 75 Friday to make the cut. That is a staggering achievement. Webb Simpson, Louis Ooshuizen and Graeme McDowell — all three majors winners — failed to make the cut.

He is the youngest player ever to play in the majors. He displayed composure and poise well beyond his years as he overcame a one-shot penalty for slow play.

The 135-pounder will not win the Masters this year. But his accomplishment will be as impressive as those of the eventual winner.


BUFFALO WILD Wings in St. Clairsville is holding a benefit to aid the Bridgeport fire victims. The deadly blaze occurred March 17.

The benefit is set for April 15. Coupons are available at the St. C. establishment to be used the day of the benefit. Anyone using that coupon on April 15, 15 percent of their bill will go to the fire victims.

No coupon will be available the night of the event.

Also that night, the Buffalo Wild Wings workers will be donating all their tips to the family.


TWO FUNDRAISERS are on tap to raise money for the Martins Ferry swimming pool. Park board members are looking to raise money for chemicals needed to get the pool ready for a June 1 opening.

A spaghetti dinner is set for Sunday, April 21 at the recreation center. Cost is $7 for adults and $3.50 children 12 and under. The dinner, which runs from noon to 4 p.m., will feature spaghetti, salad, rolls, desert and a beverage. Takeout is available. A 50/50 drawing will also be held. Tickets are available at the rec center, city building and at the door. For more information, call Georgi Riser, 635-4527.

THE SECOND event is a pancake breakfast on Saturday, May 18 from from 9 a.m. to noon at the recreation center. Cost is $6.50 for adults and $3.25 children 12 and under. The menu consists of pancakes, sausage, beverage and Mickey Mouse waffles for the kids. A 50/50 drawing will also be featured. Tickets available at the rec center, city building or at the door.

The Martins Ferry Summer Swim Team and parents are helping with both fundraisers.


BARNESVILLE ATTORNEY Marlin Harper is resting comfortably at home following a recent heart attack and triple-bypass surgery. Marlin is doing well. I had the opportunity to serve alongside Marlin on the Belmont County BDD. He is one of the classiest and intelligent individuals you will ever meet. I wish him a full and speedy recovery.

WEST LIBERTY’S Aaron Schneid has been tabbed the WVIAC Track & Field Athlete of the Week. The sophomore from Wheeling Central enjoyed a tremendous performance at the Bethany Invitational. Aaron took first in the hammer throw with a mark of 47.69. He also registered a fourth-place effort in the shot put (13.06m) and posted a fifth-place tally in the discus (40.54m).

Aaron was a state shot put and discus champion for the Maroon Knights while also being a three-year starter in football for Mike Young. Aaron is the son of Craig and Renee Schneid, both St. John Central graduates. Craig won a boat load of state track championships while coaching Magnolia.

THE NEXT Bellaire Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon/meeting will be Thursday at noon at Country Club Retirement Campus, 55801 Conno-Mara Drive, Bellaire. The cost of the luncheon is $7. There is no charge to attend the meeting. All local businesses and their employees are welcome to attend. Please make your reservations by Tuesday, by calling the chamber office 740-676-9723 or email bellairechamber@yahoo.com.

THE MAY primary is rapidly approaching. The deadline for having election-related letters published in The Times Leader is Tuesday, April 30, one week prior to the election.

CONGRATULATIONS TO Magnolia head baseball coach Dave Cisar. The passionate taskmaster reached a remarkable milestone last week, recording his 800th win as head baseball coach. Cisar has enough fire in his belly and baseball expertise to reach 1,000.

THE U.S. Postal Service’s backpedaling on Saturday delivery may prove costly to consumers. I could live without Saturday service and it was the best way to cut down on expenses for the agency, saving $2 billion. Now I see the only viable option to help reduce the Postal Services financial woes is a cost increase to customers. The Postal Service is not the bad guy in the change of plans, rather Congress is.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleaderonline.com