Joe Pappano: A political legend

JOE PAPPANO was a Belmont County political icon. He was the man.

When Pappano spoke, people stood up and took notice.

As auditor, he controlled the purse strings of the county. He was sharp — he was at one time employed at NASA — and he was a problem solver.

I was shocked Wednesday morning when I received a call from one of his relatives telling me that he passed away earlier that day. The Bellaire resident was 84 and had been in failing health.

I dealt with Joe both as managing editor and as a Bellaire Park District member. I always enjoyed his company as he was a big storyteller, especially about his NASA days.

He was vigilant when standing guard over the county’s coffers. But he was always willing to help a community facing financial hardships. I can recall on more than one occasion when he came to the rescue for Bellaire.

Pappano earned respect and praise from the masses.

“Joe Pappano was one of the most knowledgeable county officials in the state when it came to county finances. He was always advocating on behalf of supporting the local government fund to help our communities,” said State Rep. Jack Cera. “He was also a strong supporter of helping senior citizens and the disabled by advocating for raising the income level to qualify for the Homestead Exemption which reduced property taxes.

“On the political side, Joe was instrumental in my early success as a legislator as I always could go to him for advice,” he continued. “Later, we had a good-natured competition on who would lead the ticket in votes on election day. He was a great Democratic leader.”

Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede also held Pappano in high esteem.

“Belmont County has lost a great man. While we mourn Mr. Pappano’s death, we also are grateful for his many contributions to Belmont County. Auditor Joseph Pappano was a legacy and at the very heart of that legacy was his love and devotion to the people of Belmont County,” said Commissioner Favede. “Mr. Pappano taught many of us lessons and the single most important lesson he taught me was that the people always come first. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him, yet he will continue to inspire us all.”

Commissioner Mark Thomas had many dealings with Pappano during his first two terms of duty with the commission. He holds him in the highest regard.

“I had the pleasure and honor to work with Mr. Pappano for eight years during my first two terms on the commission. While he and I had our “amicable” differences at times, we were both focused on the sole goal of properly and efficiently managing the county’s finances, on behalf of the taxpayers. Mr. Pappano was true public servant, serving over 38 years, in a few capacities,” Thomas said. “In my mind, there is nobody in the county’s history that knew county finances any better than Joe Pappano and Belmont County remains a great place, in part to his commitment to public service. He treated the public’s money as it was his own and I am a better commissioner through his guidance, experience and leadership.”

Pappano is survived by his wife, Rosalie. They were married for 49 years.

Funeral services are set for Monday at 11 a.m. at St. John’s Catholic Church in Bellaire.


THERE IS no truth to the rumor that the FBI has been called in to help with the search for the missing tiger head in Shadyside.

I AM intrigued by the St. Clair Commons project. Should it come to fruition, it changes the landscape of St. Clairsville, if not all of Belmont County. The plan calls for the development of property west of the Ohio Valley Plaza. The Commons would house a wellness center, hotel and restaurant for starters. All told, more than 1,000 permanent jobs would be created if plans play out as hoped. Oil and gas are pumping life into our local economy, but the St. Clair Commons would also be a potent economic shot-in-the-arm.

TUESDAY’S PRIMARY yielded few, if any surprises. I was happy to see Pease Township voters opt to turn their lights back on. I was also pumped to see Edison School District voters finally pass a much-needed levy. Edison Superintendent Bill Beattie and his army of workers were passionate in their efforts. This was a district so financially troubled that it put the brakes on high school busing.

SPEAKING OF Tuesday’s election, it is disturbing to see such a low turnout of voters. In Belmont County, only 13.25 percent of registered voters cast their ballots. That numbers just 6,606 people. Even though some communities had no issues on the ballot, the turnout should have been higher.

THE STEELERS and Browns should both be happy with how the NFL Draft played out. I love what the Brownies did in round one.

CONCERNED CITIZENS of Bellaire will be holding a meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Veterans Office located at 3326 Belmont St. in Bellaire for purposes of developing and organizing a large street-to-street cleanup. Volunteers and donations are needed. For more information, call 740-579-6176.

BELMONT COUNTY Commissioner Matt Coffland will be the speaker at Thursday’s Bellaire Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon/meeting at noon in the Community Room of Bellaire Public Library. The cost of the luncheon is $7. There is no charge to attend the meeting. The menu will feature Slim Jims and pasta salad from Rigas’ Restaurant with dessert, sweet tea and water provided. To make your reservation by Tuesday, contact the chamber office 740-676-9421 or

TO ALL moms out there, may today be as special as you are.

Kapral may be reached at