School district’s feature changed by 29 votes

THE ONE haunting memory that sticks with me from Tuesday’s election is the Edison Local school levy.

The expansive Jefferson County school system has been battling major financial issues for years. Superintendent Bill Beattie said the district has lost $2.1 million in revenue since 2011 due to several factors.

District officials have put the brakes on bus service for high school students while also instituting a pay-to-play system.

The five-year, 5.9-mill levy would have generated $1.9 million annually for the district. It would not have solved all of Edison’s numerous problems but would have helped tremendously.

More than 4,200 votes were cast on the issue. The final result was 2,092 tallies for the levy, with 2,121 votes against it. It lost by a 29 measly votes.

A switch of just 30 votes would have breathed new life into the 208-square mile school district. Students and staff would have a new lease on life with a much brighter outlook.

Now a bad situation turns worse. There isn’t much more meat left on the bone to cut.

IN OTHER election results, Shadyside schools got a shot-in-the-arm while the Bellaire and Swizterland of Ohio districts were not as fortunate.

Tiger Town voters were in a generous mood passing a host of levies on the ballot, with the school issue taking the forefront. Superintendent John Haswell was passionate in championing the cause, and his efforts paid dividends. Shadyside is a community that takes great pride in its school system and levy approval reflects that.

It was the same old song for Bellaire’s school funding request. Voters shot down a 5.9-mill levy by 200 votes. It was the seventh successive district defeat at the polls.

Thanks to a retooling of the food service program and massive cuts, the district is heading in the right direction. The levy would have enabled Bellaire schools to bring back many of the programs eliminated when it entered the state loan fund.

Switzerland of Ohio’s future is far from rosy. It’s a shame a district with so many new buildings finds itself in such fiscal hardship.

The May levy defeat yielded pay-to-play and no bus services for athletic events, not to mention staff reductions. Who knows how deep and painful the next round of cuts will be?

IT was good to see the Belmont County district library levy gain solid approval. Our local libraries are a treasure for young and old alike.


JACOB MATUSKA has been officially redshirted by Notre Dame. Matuska is a freshman gridder who starred at Columbus Bishop Hartley. He is the son of St. John Central graduates Jim and Beth (Bierkortte) Matuska.

Jacob was an all-Ohio linebacker and tight end at Hartley. He is now being groomed as a nose guard as he has blossomed into a 6-6, 285-pound stud. The Fighting Irish are loaded with upperclass defensive linemen with Matuska being expected to see extensive playing time in 2014.

Jacob was also a standout hoopster in high school. His father was a three-sport star for St. John’s.

WHEELING HOSPITAL is offering a program called “Moving Up.” Originally developed by Dr. Gregory Merrick for area high school basketball players, the program has been expanded to include all prep student-athletes, male and female. The 90-minute seminar is designed to help prepare student-athletes for the transition to college. “Moving Up” addresses the concepts of mental toughness, training/learning and error management, NCAA academic requirements and guidelines to navigate the recruiting process. St. John Central High School is hosting “Moving Up” on Thursday in the SJC gymnasium 6 p.m. The event is open to all area athletes, coaches and parents. Contact SJC at 740-676-4932 with any questions.

WE EXTEND best wishes and good luck to E.J. Schodzinski. He has stepped down as Ohio University Eastern’s women basketball coach. He built the Lady Panthers into a hoop juggernaut. Schodzinski is moving up the OUE administrative ladder to tackle new and bigger endeavors. E.J., a former Weirton Madonna and Wheeling Jesuit basketball great, is one of the classiest people in Ohio Valley athletic and academic circles.

THE BELMONT County Veterans Service Office is opening its doors on Veterans Day to offer Belmont County veterans a free, warm bowl of chili as a way to thank veterans for their service. Veterans are invited to stop in the Bellaire office at 3326 Belmont Street between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Donations will be given to VFW Post 626 in Bellaire to help purchase an action track for the LEEK Hunting and Mountain Preserve. For more information on LEEK, visit and mention that post 626 send you to help them purchase the action track chair.

I HAVE said it on many occasions, the Sons of Italy organization is one of the best things going in Bellaire. The Sons welcomed all veterans to its gorgeous facility Friday night for a free pasta dinner. It was a massive turnout. Some 400 meals were served at no cost to the diners.

STANFORD’S ROASTING of the Oregon Ducks Thursday night is a major shot-in-the-arm for Ohio State’s national title hopes. If the Buckeyes run the table as expected and either Alabama or Florida State stumble, the Scarlet & Gray could be playing for all the marbles.

KUDOS TO all those who helped to organize the Veterans Day program in Martins Ferry Saturday afternoon. It is the best I have ever witnessed. The parade was impressive, featuring the Purple Riders band. The speakers were passionate and the crowd turned out in large numbers. The Ferry park was overflowing with pride and patriotism.

Kapral may be reached at