Fire deals Bellaire a tough blow

A PRODUCTIVE segment of Bellaire’s economy went up in flames Thursday. Literally.

Electronics Recycling Services was a feel-good story, until three days ago. ERS transformed a former school (First Ward) into a thriving business in the south-end of the All-American Town.

That was until a massive fire swept through the sprawling facility. More than a dozen local fire departments were needed to battle the blaze.

Despite the valiant efforts of many, the building was deemed “a total loss.” The one bright spot was no one was injured.

I had a chance to tour the plant last October, guided by general manager Jim Johnston. It is an impressive operation. You name it, ERS recycled it.

The facility yielded dozens of well-paying jobs, which helped pump tax dollars into the Bellaire village budget.

Now all that remains for the moment is rubble and uncertainty.

ERS has several other sister operations throughout the nation. Bellaire was one of its most profitable.

I talked to one ERS official Friday. He said the Canadian-based owners have vowed to rebuild in Bellaire.

That needs to happen.


ASHLEY FLANAGAN was a young lady who lived life to its fullest. She was full of pep, gusto and always had a smile on her face. You always felt better after encountering Ashley.

Unfortunately, her life ended all too shortly. The Bellaire native died at 27 years of age in March of 2012. Routine knee surgery resulted into a fatal blood clot.

She made an impact in her 27 years as reflected in a scholarship being established in her name. The scholarship is earmarked to go to a Bellaire High track member who tosses the shot put and discus. Ashley did both exceedingly well.

To fuel funding for the scholarship, family and friends are staging the “Flan-tastic” fundraiser Saturday from 1-11 p.m. at Rhodes Skyliner, formerly the Bridgeport Eagles.

Food, games music and friendship will be featured in abundance.

Anyone unable to attend and wishing to donate can do so at WesBanco in St. Clairsville where a “Flan-tastic Fundraiser” account has been established. WesBanco’s number is 740-695-3300. Donations can also be mailed to Jeff Bennett, 6 Brookside Ave., Bridgeport, 43912.

Ashley touched countless lives in a positive fashion. I encourage everyone to attend the fundraiser or donate to a worthy cause.


I WAS happy to see cooler heads prevailed as the Buckeye Local Board of Education voted to rehire Phil Pest as head football coach. Phil is a good football man and a great role model for his players.

MARTINS FERRY’S regional basketball trip to Athens Wednesday didn’t turn out as the Purple Raiders’ Nation would have liked. Regardless, it was a special season again for Coach Jeff Sabatino’s charges, returning to the regionals for a second successive year. The Purple fans turned out in fine fashion for the game, including three pep buses. We had a chance to trek downtown prior to the game. Athens is a gorgeous college town. One of those at the game included Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland.

I DON’T often get time to watch a flick. I did, however, have time to see “The Wolf of Wall Street” last week. It was a tremendous film and Leonardo DiCaprio was outstanding in the lead role.

MELANIE HASWELL informed Shadyside Village Council Monday night that she was stepping down as manager of the Shadyside pool. Haswell has served in that capacity the past three summers, helping the pool reopen after a period of dormancy. She did her job with passion and a community-minded spirit. Her presence will be missed.

THE BELLAIRE Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its monthly luncheon/meeting on Thursday at noon in the Community Room of Bellaire Public Library. Cost of the luncheon is $7. There is no charge to attend the meeting. Hoagies from 24/7 Pizza will be served. Guest speaker will be Peter Riesbeck from Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. All local business owners and their employees are welcome to attend. Please make your reservation by Tuesday.

THE YTR Coalition makes sense. Yorkville, Tiltonsville and Rayland have joined forces in an economic-driven venture. The three neighboring communities now can share manpower, equipment and ideas to trim expenses. Bellaire and Shadyside as well as Martins Ferry and Bridgeport could possibly pool resources to save some bucks.

THE MARTINS Ferry pool is in need of funding in order to re-open and operate this summer. The first fundraiser unfolds Monday at the recreation center. Eat-in and carryout are available with limited delivery from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Cost is $7. Children age 5 and under eat for free. Soups available are vegetable, ham and bean, chili with or without beans. Sandwiches include sloppy Joes, ham salad and chicken salad. Beverages and desert will are included. Soups will also be sold in pints $3, quarts $6. Single bowls are $2 and single sandwiches $2. Beverages are $1. Pre-order blanks can be picked up at the recreation center. Phone orders the day of sale are available by calling 633-0602.

MARTINS FERRY City Council is considering hiking its income tax by .25 percent. Even though I live in Bellaire, such a hike impacts my paycheck as I work in the Purple City. If the revenue generated from the tax is used properly — such as supporting the police department — I have no problem paying it.

JOHN SOLOVAN is a no nonsense Belmont County Common Pleas judge. That is one of the reasons I respect him. Judge Solovan had a painstaking decision Thursday, that being the sentencing for convicted murderer Devon Fuller after the jury became gridlocked. With the death sentence already taken out of the mix, Judge Solovan went with the most stern option possible — that being life without parole. That would be the same route I would have went. Two things I want in our judges: toughness and fairness. Judge Solovan has once again exhibited both.

Kapral may be reached at