Martins Ferry committed to police force

MARTINS FERRY officials have once again reaffirmed their commitment to their police department.

At a Wednesday press conference, Mayor Paul Riethmiller announced three grants for the Purple City. Those monies, totaling more than $10,000, will be used by the police department in varying ways.

City Development Director Kathy Gagin was the catalyst in landing the grants. Such funding avenues are vital to small cities such as Ferry.

The star of the show Wednesday was Ecko. Ferry’s K-9 officer is the biggest beneficiary of the grants, as one through the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will channel $9,500 into feeding, veterinary services and insuring Ecko, whose presence has greatly helped local police agencies in battling crime, especially in the drug sector.

The grants help the Ferry police funding situation, but they are far from a cure-all. That is partially the reason city officials are considering hiking the city income tax by .25 percent.

Should the tax increase come to fruition, some of the yield will go toward the police department. I view that as a small price to pay to ensure a crack police force is provided the resources it needs to maintain its level of excellence.


TODAY IS a special day in Martins Ferry as the Purple City stages its annual Hall of Honor induction ceremonies.

It is also a special day for The Times Leader as two of our own are being enshrined. Cal and Betty Pokas have combined for more than 80 years of Times Leader service. They are among the enshrinees today.

Cal was my newspaper mentor. I have said on more than one occasion that I learned more in my first week of working with Cal than I did in four years of college. I would not be where I am if not for him.

Betty, meanwhile, is the most talented individual I have every worked with in this profession. She has no peers as a writer or editor. Betty is also as classy a lady as you will find.

The Hall of Honor Committee hit on a good thing years ago when it decided to honor Ferry’s finest.


THE TIMES Leader received some sobering news Thursday. Skip Olson, a longtime Times Leader staffer, died in Florida. Skip would have been 77 this May.

Skip was a running enthusiast. He covered Harrison County as well as prep sports for us. I nicknamed him Mr. Cadiz because he knew more about the village and Harrison County than anyone I ever encountered.

Skip suffered a stroke five weeks ago.

He has a son Barry who resides in Florida and another son, Brian, who coaches in Erie, Pa. His sister, Cookie Dolfi resides in Rayland.

Skip was a West Liberty High graduate. He attended Marshall University before returning home and graduating from West Liberty.

His dad, Ollie, coached at West Liberty. He coached football and basketball before being a pioneer with the college’s track and cross country programs.


THE HEALTH Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley will soon be in the market for a new president and CEO. Phil Wright has announced his retirement from those posts effective June 30. Wright has served in the role of CEO for 25 years. The Health Plan’s membership has grown to 370,000 during Wright’s tenure. The board has launched an immediate search.

PREP BASKETBALL in the Ohio Valley comes to a close today at OUE when the Samuel Mumley Basketball Classic unfolds. The twinbill commences at 3 p.m. with the girls vying followed by the boys’ contest. We urge all hoop fans to get out and take in a class affair and watch many players in their final hoop contest. Martins Ferry’s Big Red — Robert Vargo — will play today in the OVAC contest and then extend the season another week as he gets the honor of playing in the prestigious Ohio North-South Game. It’s an honor few local hoopsters get to experience.

THE ST. CLAIRSVILLE Library is spicing things up. You are invited to bring your favorite Mexican-themed dish and recipe to the Recipe Round-up on Thursday at 6 p.m. Be ready for lots of great food and fun! This program is for ages 21 and up and attendees are encouraged to bring a beverage of choice. For more information, call the library at (740) 695-2062.

WE AT The Times Leader are still accepting donations in Rich “Hoot” Gibson’s memory for Thursday’s Light The Night Walk at Wheeling Jesuit University. The walk benefits The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Checks should be made payable to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We received a generous donation this past week in Hoot’s name from a OVAC football coaching legend.

I AM a big Taylor Swift fan. Her stock rose even higher when it was reported that she is a regular visitor to hospitals, talking and singing to young patients.

MASTERS’ PICK: One of the greatest sporting events of the year commences Thursday at Augusta, Ga. After a year-long slump, I look for a big year from Rory McIlroy. He is my pick with Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Keegan Bradley in close pursuit. Augusta without Tiger Woods makes it a wide-open tournament.

Kapral may be reached at