BELMONT COUNTY residents can take heart with the freshly released U.S. Census figures.
The perception of the county is that it is drying up and dying a slow death.
But after years of population decline, the latest figures prove otherwise. Belmont County realized an increase in residents since the last tabulation a decade ago.
Belmont County has now again topped the 70,000 by some 400 residents. The county is still home to two cities: Martins Ferry with a healthy 6,915 count and St. Clairsville recording 5,184 residents.
St. C., which barely met the 5,000 number for city status 10 years ago, was one of two Belmont County communities to experience growth, with Shadyside being the other. Tiger Town grew by more than 100.
It is not surprising to see growth in those two towns. Both are very scenic and both boast strong community and school pride.
Bellaire, which has been harboring 10 years of hope for regaining city status, was dealt a healthy dose of reality. The All-American Town lost more than 600 residents during the past 10 years, dropping to slightly above 4,200. It's safe to say Bellaire's aspirations of ever becoming a city again are non-existent.
Belmont County has surprisingly now passed Jefferson County in total population.
Two other Eastern Ohio counties received mixed results. Harrison County saw a small increase while Monroe County lost 400 residents. However, that may change in the coming years with new school buildings being constructed throughout the county combined with an Ormet plant in Hannibal which is operating at full capacity.
Around the state of Ohio, it comes as no surprise that Columbus is the biggest city with some 787,000 residents. It is the lone Buckeye State city in the top 10 to show an increase.
Cleveland and Cincinnati, the next two largest cities, each experienced huge population losses.
I was stunned to see that Parma and Lorain are the state's seventh and 10th largest, cities respectively. (See chart on page A7).
OUR PRAYERS and our heartfelt sympathy go out to St. John Central High track coach and chemistry teacher Paul Xenakis upon the death of his wife. Paul is the ultimate in professionalism and is a peerless teacher, be it in the classroom or in track.
IT WAS no secret that the Shadyside High Lady Tigers were going to be a powerful squad this year. But to be a spotless 26-0 heading into the state Final Four with their schedule is truly remarkable. Coach Tina Yates, her staff and her players deserve unending praise. I expect the Lady?Tigers to be playing Saturday afternoon for a state championship.
THE BELMONT Coat Closet did wonderful work this past winter. The coat closet handed out 946 coats to children and adults in need. Coat closet workers and those who donated to a most worthy cause must be commended. The closet will re-open in late September.
CONGRATULATIONS TO Indian Creek head boys' basketball coach Joe Dunlevy as he recorded his 300th career coaching in the sectional final win against East Liverpool. No local prep hoop coach does it with more passion or energy than Joe.
AT LEAST two colleges have expressed interest in having Charlie Sheen as their commencement speakers this spring. Having Sheen speak at such an important ceremony would be an injustice to all those graduates who take life seriously.
I AGREE with State Sen. Jason Wilson's proposal to cut salaries for state legislators. Wilson is seeking to reduce pay for state representatives and senators by 5 percent with an additional 5 percent cut if by January 2013 the state unemployment rate is lower than the national average. I am anxious to see if any of the 17 Republican senators who supported SB 5 will support a pay cut for themselves.
THE WVSSAC needs to review its basketball post-season tournament policy. It is goofy that a team can lose in the regional and still be able to advance to the state tournament. The format is a good thing for Wheeling Park boys this year but worked against a very good Bishop Donahue girls team two years ago. There is no explaining such rationale.
NFL OWNERS and players alike should be chastised for unquenchable greed. How else can you explain an inability to agree on how to share a $9 BILLION industry?
A BENEFIT dinner for a most worthwhile cause will be held a week from today at Forest Hills Community Center in West Bellaire for Bob and Mary Ann Castricone. The event will run from noon to 5 p.m. and will assist the Castricones with the purchase of a stairlift and medical expenses. Cost for the pasta dinner is $10 adults, and $4 for children 12 and under.
Music will be provided by Robert "Moose" Dodrill. Call 760-676-7011, 676-9487 for tickets or to make donations.
Kapral may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org