THESE ARE good times in Martins Ferry, and they are only looking to getting better.
Wednesday night's city council meeting was an eventful one to say the least. Ferry officials were the recipients of a check for $729,434.97 for the leasing of the mineral rights for 147 acres of property to XTO Energy.
That is a nice windfall for a city which is making great economic strides. But the good news doesn't stop with that over-sized check.
"It's a great thing for the city," said Belmont County Auditor Andrew Sutak. "It's the tip of the iceberg with the way oil and gas is coming."
That is refreshing news for a community hit hard from the shrinking steel industry.
The property involved in the transaction is located in the area of the high school and cemetery. Once a well becomes operational, albeit maybe years down the road, the city will gain additional revenue through royalty payments.
Martins Ferry's oil gusher comes on the heels of another huge land agreement last week in Barnesville. The western Belmont County village sold land rights to a Denver-based company for $6 million.
We hope such lucrative deals become commonplace throughout Eastern Ohio. With economic woes continuing and local government funding being cut, the money will help fill many budgetary gaps.
Martins Ferry, which also recently saw a limestone operation become a viable entity, has more good news in the offing.
Mayor Paul Riethmiller notes that the city will see further development next month when an oil business moves into a location on First Street mid-October, representing an investment of millions, some jobs and a significant tax base. It looms as mega cash cow.
The XTO check goes directly into Ferry's general fund account. The funds will support a strapped street department while it is never a bad move channeling money into the police force.
After that, Ferry officials must employ careful planning on how to proceed with the new influx of money and utilize it in the best interest of the city and its residents.
We believe that will come to fruition as the current administration has consistently demonstrated deft leadership.