WHETHER YOU are a supporter of Bellaire schools or not, you have to love the passion exhibited by District Superintendent Tony Scott in his quest to get an 8.9-mill levy passed.
Scott continued his crusade to garner voter support during Thursday's Bellaire Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The district has unsuccessfully attempted on four recent occasions to get funding requests passed.
A fifth try is looming this November.
Scott has made his presentation on numerous occasions. I have probably heard it as often as anyone. It is a tough sell but one Scott embraces, despite being blindsided by the staggering debt he assumed when he took the job some three years ago.
Scott touts the fact the district has become very fiscally responsible. It came with much pain as it cost 36 teaching jobs, four administrative posts, 16 classified workers and revamping the food services plan. But the superintendent says the district is now highly efficient, with the crux of the problem being repaying state loans.
He says the district cannot outrun the debt, as there are no more cuts that can be made. More money is a must to erase the red ink. The Big Reds' schools have not passed an operating levy since 1976.
Scott's first two attempts at the ballot box were 12.9-mill levies with the next two being an earned income tax. Scott said the levy was dropped to 8.9 mills this time as the school district is now operating at a reduced level. He said it is not a cure-all but is desperately needed to turn the financial tide.
Time will tell if Bellaire voters are comfortable with the levy. Regardless of the outcome, Scott should be commended for his continuing procession of presentations.
During his address, Scott indicated that Kevin Roseberry, now the district's administrative assistant, will likely slide over and become high school principal, replacing the retiring Steve Romey.
THE MARTINS Ferry Chamber of Commerce dealt with a bevy of issues during its monthly luncheon meeting at the recreation center.
Academic Awards Banquet Chairman Greg Heslop reported the annual event was a resounding success. Heslop noted the banquet attracted 833 people to WesBanco Arena with 211 of those being honored students. He noted that students took home $30,000 scholarships that evening. Martins Ferry Schools Superintendent Dirk Fitch thanked Heslop and the chamber for their support for the popular event.
UPDATES were also presented on two major upcoming chamber productions.
Soap Box Derby Committee Chairman Brian Dawes said plans are progressing well with the June extravaganza. He said nearly 35 cars have already registered and he expects this year's total will match that of a year ago (64). A racing clinic was held this past Wednesday and the racers will have their photos taken this Wednesday at the Times Leader. Dawes also said new radios have been secured for workers and a net pit area is being utilized which should make it more convenient for participants.
The Sky Show is in need of community support to help defray expenses. Chamber Executive Director Dorothy Powell said the annual fireworks spectacular carries with it a $10,000 price tag. Thus far, fundraising efforts have netted half of that amount.
Councilman Chris Cleary presented the report from the city. Obviously, the city officials were priming for Vice President's Joe Biden's visit to Staffilino's Thursday. Elsewhere, Cleary said a new tractor has been purchased for grass-cutting at the cemeteries and that flags were going to be placed on veterans' graves in time for Memorial Day. Cleary said 10 Dogwood trees have been planted at the city park, with the help of the Lions Club. He said plans are still ongoing for the "Picnic in the Park" event on June 9. Cleary said the city is championing a community-wide cleanup effort and ended by saying the police department will be adding "Echo," a canine deputy in the very near future.
FORMER OHIO State Athletic Director Andy Geiger has come out of the ranks of the retired. Geiger, now 73, has become athletic director at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Geiger served as the Buckeyes' athletic director from 1994-2005. The Schottenstein Center was built under his Scarlet & Gray watch. UW-Milwaukee competes in the Horizon League, fielding 13 teams. The Panthers do not have a football program.
THE ALL-AMERICAN Days Festival is now accepting crafters and vendors for this year's festival scheduled for May 31, June 1, and June 2 in Historic Bellaire Park. The cost for food vendors is $100 which includes your electric, while vendors will also need appropriate permits from the health department. For crafters and other vendors, the cost is $50. There is no charge to set up for any non-profit organization. For more information or to request an application, call 740-676-4817.
THE?BETHESDA Fire Department Chicken BBQ will be held on?Monday, May 28 beginning at 11 a.m. at the Bethesda Firehouse. Dinners include: Half chicken, baked potato, green beans and roll. Dinners cost?$8 while half chickens cost $5. Individuals can pre-order by calling 740-484-4573.
NATIONALLY RENOWN falcon expert Mick Brown will be presenting a special falconry program at Barkcamp State Park on Saturday. Brown, a Martins Ferry resident, will have several of his birds on hand and will enable those in attendance to learn more about the ancient art while seeing falcons up close. The program is free and will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Barkcamp Amphitheater. For more information, call 740-484-4064.
SHADYSIDE POOL passes are still selling sluggishly. Pool manager Melanie Haswell, however, said the pool will likely open June 1.
THE MARTINS Ferry Lions Club will hold a spaghetti dinner on Sunday, June 3, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m, at St. John's Lutheran Church. Carry outs will be available. For information contact Joe Lovell. The Lions will also hold a steak fry on Saturday, June 30 at Redmen's Field. Tickets are $15 each and the menu includes ribeye steak, potato, salad and dessert. It is a bring your own bottle event. For information, call Mike at Ferry Hardware. Winners of the recent beer raffle were Mary Beth Fitch and Becky Horne.
CONGRATULATIONS TO Barnesville High Athletic Director Mark Cook on the recent birth of his second grandchild: Max Paul Lucas, son of Ryan and Bethany Lucas.
HOW THE mighty have fallen. Nate Montana, son of legendary QB Joe Montana, started his collegiate grid career as a Notre Dame quarterback candidate. He transferred to Pasadena Community College before returning to Notre Dame. The transient QB then moved again, transferring to aptly named Montana. He completed 26 of 42 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns in eight games a season ago for the Grizzlies. Montana has moved on again as the fifth-year senior will be performing at West Virginia Wesleyan this fall.
THE?TIMES?Leader extends its thanks and gratitude to Tiltonsville Boy?Scout Troop 460.?The Scouts, under the direction of Troop leader Jim?Herman, stopped at our Ferry office Thursday and replaced our old Ohio and U.S. flags on the front of the building. Their efficient work will be featured pictorially this week in The Times Leader.
Kapral may be reached at email@example.com