Is time running out on Bellaire parking meters?

THE BIG ticket item for discussion in the village of Bellaire these days is parking meters.

Should they remain or be removed?

That issue dominated Thursday night’s village council meeting.

You would think parking meters wouldn’t spark a lengthy debate. In Bellaire they do.

The All-American Town is dealing with a six-figure budget shortfall. Parking meters, depending on your viewpoint, add to the problem or are a possible remedy.

Viewpoints were delivered Thursday from both sides.

Now is my time to put my two cents into the meters.

I am pro-parking meter.

The anti-meter supporters say they are a financial drain because they are in need of constant repair and someone needs paid to monitor them. I believe, volunteers and retirees could ease some of that burden.

I see meters serving a useful financial purpose. If properly monitored and maintained, they bring in a nice cash flow.

Meters also protect downtown businesses from people just taking up spaces in front of their shops all day long free of charge, chasing potential customers away. Moreover, the city parking lot, a convenient and affordable option, would suffer irreparable damage as it would no longer serve a viable purpose.

I don’t have a vote on the final decision, but I do champion the cause to keep parking meters in Bellaire.

GUSHER OF A DEAL

THERE HAS been a huge amount of money flowing into Eastern Ohio via the oil and gas industry.

The village of Barnesville has brokered a multimillion dollar deal. Belmont County has also been the recipient of nice windfalls, one being a $3 million check from Rice Energy.

The deal brokered Friday, however, is a monster.

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District reached an accord with Antero Resources. The Denver-based company will drill on some 6,300 acres in the Piedmont Lake area.

Antero is paying $15,000 an acre. That amount is off the charts and adds up to nearly $95 million. It gets better, the two sides are negotiating for another 300 acres of Piedmont land.

The expansive drilling site encompasses three counties: Belmont, Guernsey and Harrison, with Belmont owning the lion’s share.

Landowners impacted by MWCD will also realize the benefits from the deal, as their property taxes will be slashed by 50 percent.

It’s been said that Eastern Ohio, especially Belmont County, is just beginning to get a small taste of the oil and gas industry. If that is true, deals like the MWCD are mind-boggling.

CHURCH CLOSED

ST. MARY’S Church in Lafferty was destroyed on May 23, 2012 in a massive fire. It started in the bell tower. No one was injured in the blaze.

Diocese of Steubenville Bishop Jeffery M. Monforton has decreed that the church will close for good.

The bishop also decreed that its territory will be attached to St. Paul Parish in Flushing. All records from St. Mary’s will also be sent to St. Paul’s.

Father Frederick C. Kihm is pastor of both parishes. He was able to salvage the Blessed Sacrament, sacred vessels, the Sacramentary, the Lectionary and vestments after he entered the church during the fire.

BUBBA’S BITS

WOULD YOU like to own a piece of history? Orders are now being taken for 8×12-inch flag flown on a mission in?Kuwait with a certificate of authenticity. Orders may be placed at the Martins Ferry Recreation Center.?Flags cost?$10 each and the money is due when placing the order. Flags will arrive in 10-12 weeks. For more information, call 740-633-0602. There will only be 50 flags sold, so it is on a first-come, first-served basis. ?Proceeds will fund operations at the Martins Ferry pool.

AT TUESDAY’S Martins Ferry Chamber meeting, Councilmen Rob Duncan and Russell Armstrong spoke on several matters. One of the issues was that of trees impacting sidewalks. Many of the trees were memorial trees bought by a family member. The trees were a project created by the Martins Ferry Chamber. Another issue was the permanent care fund for the Riverview Cemetery. The councilmen said there is $178,000 in the fund and they cannot touch it. The Ohio Revised Code specifies the city cannot use it, even for the upkeep of the cemetery. The funds come from families who pay for the upkeep of their family graves.

THE BELLAIRE Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon Thursday. Guest speaker was new Bellaire High Head Football Coach Steve Andres. He delivered an indepth talk of his career and his philosophy. Chamber President Lou Ann Bennett noted that the annual Easter Egg Hunt attracted more than 300 youths. It was also announced that a new shop — Wee Bit Worn — is now open for business in town. It is located on 34th Street right across from the gazebo in the park. Wee Bit Worn offers gently used children’s clothing.

SCHOOLS WILL begin letting out for summer recess in about a month. Unfortunately for Beallsville High School freshmen, sophomores and juniors they are not sure if they will have the opportunity to be Blue Devils again. The Switzerland of Ohio Board of Education — in its battle against huge debt — is undecided if it will reopen Beallsville High next year. I appreciate what the board has to deal with, but closing Beallsville High School should be a last resort after all other options and cuts have been explored. Beallsville is a community very passionate about its schools, closing the high school would be a crushing blow to the Blue Devil Nation.

I LIKE the Ike Davis acquisition by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Davis packs quality power at first base.

TO ALL our readers, I wish you a most blessed Easter.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleaderonline.com