The Motor City’s wheels fall off

HOW THE mighty have fallen.

When the city of Detroit officially filed for bankruptcy Thursday, it was the exclamation point on decades of economic erosion in the Motor City. While Detroit’s fiscal meltdown means little to most of the Ohio Valley, it hits home to me.

My brother John has been working in Motown for 35 years, first with the Detroit Pistons now with the Tigers and Red Wings. He lives just north of the city in Rochester Hills, but he is all too familiar with Detroit’s problems.

Motown now has the dubious distinction of becoming the nation’s largest city to file for bankruptcy, displacing Stockton, Cal. which traveled the same route just 13 months ago.

Detroit’s woes are tied to political corruption and a massive population exodus. In the 1950s and 60s, the city’s population mushroomed to 1.8 million.

The auto industry, with its plentiful and well-paying jobs, was the driving force of the boom. Detroit’s solid foundation began to chip away as suburbs became a more attractive venue for families combined with an expansion of the auto industry, as other cities began building their own plants.

Detroit’s current population is 700,000 and dwindling. Losing more than a million residents would take a toll on any city.

The image of the city is one of crime and decay.

The future of Detroit takes on a bleaker outlook as it is still reeling from years of inept and unethical leadership.

One long-time mayor went to jail on corruption charges. A former council member was just released from prison.

Some Detroit officials reportedly drained city departments of funds. One instance of the money-siphoning resulted in inspected fire hydrants routinely failed to produce water and police couldn’t answer 911 calls. That was magnified in one deadly episode when firefighters responded to an apartment fire only to watch pleading residents die, because the ladders on their trucks didn’t work.

That is an atrocity, but that is Detroit.

The Motor City will never regain its once-proud swagger. There will be no spike in population and the auto industry is now a different animal than in the 1950s and 60s.

The city now must hang its hat on the Red Wings and Tigers.


THE VILLAGE of Bellaire will hold its second “free” trash disposal day on Saturday, Aug. 10, from 8 a.m. until noon, at the service garage on 419 37th St. This service is “free” to all Bellaire garbage customers with a copy of your billing account.

Items not eligible are: landscape waste, liquids, (paint, motor oil, sludge), toxic waste or materials (asbestos), batteries, lumber, medical waste, construction and demolition debris and gas tanks of any kind.

Representatives from the Knights of Columbus will be on hand to take any metal items you wish to discard or you may call 740-676-8688 for a home pick-up for metal items only.

The village is also asking for volunteers that day to help with a village-wide litter clean-up. Gloves and bags will be provided as well as lunch. The first 20 volunteers who sign up by July 31, will also receive a free tee shirt. You should call Jim Williams at 740-676-7011 or the mayor’s office at 740-676-6539 to sign up and register your size. Volunteers will meet at the fountain in the park at 8:30 a.m. to get their gloves, bags and tee shirt.


THE MARTINS Ferry Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon Tuesday at the recreation center. It was noted that the recent fireworks show was not as successful as year’s past.

The chamber’s next fund-raising event will be at the annual Betty Zane Days Festival when it holds its annual sausage stand. The festival runs from Aug. 6-10.

Councilmen Rob Duncan and Chris Cleary reported on city matters. They noted that the city will undergo a performance audit. It will compare Ferry operations with those in cities of similar size such as Ironton. An energy update is also under way.


FORMER BELLAIRE High and Marshall University gridder P.J. Woods is the new athletic director at Philo High School, located in Duncan Falls, just below Zanesville. Woods was previously the Electrics’ head football coach.

THE?VILLAGE of Bellaire will hold Community Day yard sales on Saturday,?Aug. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please call the mayor’s office at 676-6539, to get on the list. The $10 fee will be waived. The last day to get on the list will be July 31. The list of yard sales will be available on Aug. 1&2 at the mayor’s office and 24/7 Pizza. Any questions, call 676-6539.

MARK CISAR continues to amaze. I had the good fortune to cover his Union Local football game at Martins Ferry this past season when he tossed a perfect spiral out of Purple Rider Stadium. The former Magnolia High great scripted an amazing encore with a remarkable OVBL playoff MVP performance. Pretty impressive for a 38-year-old.

I ENCOURAGE everyone to attend a Community Worship Service tonight at 7 o’clock at the amphitheater at Martins Ferry City Park. It is being sponsored by Grace Presbyterian Church and will feature a live Praise band. Everyone is invited to bring their family and friends and enjoy a special summer evening in the park. The youth group from the church will sponsor a bake sale. It should be a very nice affair.

TWO SEASON tickets for Ohio State Buckeyes’ football games are the prize in a fund-raising project being held by the OSU Alumni Club of Belmont County. The donation is $5 each or six for $20 for an opportunity to win the two tickets. The winner will be selected Aug. 8 at 6 p.m. at Buffalo Wild Wings. Funds from this annual project go for local scholarships to Ohio State. Those wishing to participate in the project may give their donations at the office of Susan Tolbert, CPA, in Martins Ferry, or call Mike Maistros, 740-695-2002.

Kapral may be reached at