MARTINS FERRY The issue of finding a polling location for the citizens of Martins Ferry for the upcoming May primary has been resolved.
While residents will no longer be voting at the site of the former South School, they also won't have to trek up the hill to vote at the city's school complex.
Nor will they have to trek further still to Colerain, an idea of last resort bandied about by the Belmont County Board of Elections, should the board have been unable to fight a suitable location.
Fortunately, said location has been found, agreed upon and, as of this week's board meeting, approved by a 3-0 vote.
Voting will now take place at Liberty Automotive on Hanover Street, just across Ohio 7 past the railroad crossing on the south side of Hanover.
Board President Frankie Carnes admitted the thought of the possibility of using Liberty Automotive after watching one of its commercials.
"I saw the commercial but couldn't remember the name so I told (Director) Bill (Shubat) about seeing an auto dealer in Martins Ferry that looked perfect," Carnes said. "So we contacted Liberty and went an looked at the location.
"The gentleman who owns the dealer has been wonderful. All precincts previously voting at South School will now vote here."
"It is an absolutely wonderful facility."
Shubat noted the deal will be sealed with a 10-year contract. Liberty has well over 3,500 square feet according to Shubat, along with air conditioning, restrooms and is big enough to house all of the election board's needed equipment for polling location.
"He said he'd do anything to help us," Shubat said. "They are going to move the cars so we'll have probably plenty of parking.
"It's a handicap accessible facility so it's ADA compliant. It's perfect."
Like with South School after it changed ownership from the school district, a price will be negotiated with owner Jeff Wojcik for the use of his dealership as a polling location.
The board had originally wished to look at facilities on the hilltop at the Martins Ferry City School District complex for a new home for voting in the county's largest municipality.
But the district has reservations in terms of safety, having a number of citizens inside the building during an instructional day.
Also, hosting voting at the school complex meant having to travel up and down the hill which, with potential bad weather ranging from rain to storm depending on a May or November election, could have proved troublesome.
Wojcik was unable to be reached for comment.
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