Take the handcuffs off the Bellaire police

THE WEEK that just played out in Bellaire reinforces the need to better compensate and beef up the village’s police force.

The criminal activity in the All-American Town is reaching epidemic proportions. Armed robberies and other heinous crimes are becoming commonplace.

Police Chief Mike Kovalyk is excellent in carrying out his duties while his staff is a quality one. But the officers have been underpaid for much too long while also being stretched too thin.

Bellaire has always been a tough town, but not a criminal town.

The blue-collar coal-mining and steel-working families are drying up in Bellaire and being replaced by a seedy crowd. It is a disturbing and dangerous trend.

Village government needs to step to the plate and support its police department.

I understand the financial constraints Bellaire is dealing with, but I also realize that the police department must become a greater priority for the powers-to-be in the All-American Town. Until then, Bellaire police officers are working while handcuffed.


THE MARTINS Ferry Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon meeting Tuesday at chamber offices.

Jeanette Wojcik was the featured speaker. She is executive director of Faith In Action Caregivers, Inc., which recently moved its offices to St. John Lutheran Church, located at 38 N. 4th St. in Ferry.

Wojcik detailed the work of Faith in Action, and it is quite impressive. The group matches volunteers with elderly in need of assistance.

Faith In Action Caregivers has some 250 volunteers who contribute some 1,600 hours a year. All told, 1,800 clients are served at no charge in three local counties (Belmont, Ohio and Marshall).

For anyone wishing to volunteer, call 304-243-5420.

IN OTHER chamber action, Chamber Executive Director Dorothy Powell reported the Koeze Nut sale fundraiser was a big holiday success.

She also noted that plans are under way for the craft and vendor sale on April 12 at the former Hilltop School. Last year’s maiden venture was met with resounding success. This year, the event will be limited to 60 tables. More than 80 tables were contained last year, which created some space problems.

Other chamber events for 2014 include: Academic Awards Banquet at WesBanco Arena (May 6), Soap Box Derby (June 8), Skyshow at Martins Ferry School Complex (July 3); Betty Zane Days (Aug. 4-9), Night at the Races (TBA).

A bowling challenge and steak fry are also under consideration in the coming months. The chamber can always use volunteers and financial assistance. The chamber number is 740-633-2565.

COUNCILMEN Rob Duncan and Russ Armstrong presented the city report. They noted a new city solicitor (Paul Stecker) has been sworn in; a new police vehicle will arrive in the next few weeks; the city is looking to sell more water in an attempt to raise revenue and updating city codes remain a priority.

The next chamber meeting is scheduled for Feb. 18 at the recreation center.


CONGRATULATIONS GO out to Jack Cera on his receiving Ohio Legislator of the Year Award. The state representative from Bellaire is deserving of such honors as he brings a common sense approach to the post while also having strong commitment to his constituents. Jack always has time for anyone wishing to bend his ears. I am glad he has opted to run for re-election, as detailed on today’s front page.

I URGE everyone in good physical condition to help save a life by giving blood Monday at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling. The Ohio Valley Media Day Blood Drive runs from 10 a.m to 7 p.m.

THE NEW York Yankees have returned to their frivolous cash-spending ways. They signed Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka to a $155 million, seven-year deal. He was 24-0 last season. I see it as an act of desperation by the Bronx Bombers.

WHILE VISITING a friend at Wheeling Hospital Tuesday evening, I decided to get dinner at its cafeteria. While loading may tray, I ran into my boyhood neighbor and lifelong friend Bob Ney. The former U.S. Congressman was also on a visitation mission with his dad. After exchanging a hug, I told him how much I loved his book, adding he got sold out and how disgusting politics are, while also calling out U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. I urged him to hop back into the political arena, but he said he will stick with his radio work.

I WAS half right a week ago. I picked the Seahawks correctly but fumbled with my Patriots’ pick. I still have a hard time fathoming playing a Super Bowl outdoors in cold weather. Why punish the players and fans alike? Take the game to either warmer weather or a dome stadium.

JUSTIN BIEBER is out of control. I never did like the teen pop star, and his recent goonish activity reinforces that feeling. Drag racing while under the influence is a recipe for disaster.

THE?CLEVELAND?Browns are destined to be mired in mediocrity. After firing their head coach after just one year, which is unheard of, the Browns’ braintrust took forever to pick a successor. They picked Mike Pettine, a Bufflo Bills’ assistant. The Browns would have been better served by retaining Rob?Chudzinski.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleaderonline.com