I AM Bellaire born and bred. I have lived in the All-American Town all my life and plan to keep it that way.
I love the town. It is blue collar, boasting great athletic achievements.
The last few years, however, I have not been a happy camper seeing the town shrivel up, both population wise and business wise.
While sister city Martins Ferry is heading in the right direction, Bellaire has not followed suit.
The All-American Town has failed to take advantage of the gas-oil boom which is becoming more and more impactful in Eastern Ohio. Bellaire has been stagnating.
With that said, I saw signs of life emanating from Thursday's Bellaire Village Council meeting.
First, a spirit of cooperation between the water department and police department will result in the police getting a new cruiser at a much more affordable price.
That is a positive for two reasons: cooperation has been a missing trait in government workings in Bellaire while the Bellaire Police Department has been shortchanged for all too long. The force is understaffed and underpaid, many years removed from a pay increase.
Meanwhile, Mayor Paul Riethmiller and the Martins Ferry administration embrace their police department. Bellaire needs to do the same.
It was also announced at Thursday's council meeting that Village Administrator Dan Marling and water officials will institute a crackdown on delinquent bill-payers. That is an action which has been needed for much too long. It will yield a nice chunk of change for the water department.
Marling has done wonders during his short time as administrator. He is complimented by an extremely hard-working mayor and a council which appears more on the same page than previous councils.
That is the key in Martins Ferry: All the city officials are on the same page working for the common good. Personalities and egos don't enter the mix.
If Thursday's council meeting is any indication, Bellaire may be on the right track for revitalization.
THE NAME DRU Joyce may not mean much to the average reader. But to prep basketball, junkies they know Joyce was LeBron James' high school basketball coach at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
I had the opportunity to talk 1-on-1 with Joyce last weekend at his high school gym during an AAU event. For a man with four state titles to his credit in addition to coaching LeBron, you might think he would be arrogant individual. Just the opposite.
I found out him to be one of the most soft spoken coaches ever. Down to earth as you can imagine.
He said he started coaching LeBron when he was 10. Joyce said in the 8 years they were together that LeBron missed just 1 practice. He said his physical skills were obvious, but his work ethic was just as amazing. Joyce said he received a bum rap when LeBron gave up football in high school to concentrate on hoops. Joyce said Lebron was good enough to be an NFL receiver.
Joyce said that LeBron returns home every summer to work out. He opts not to do so at his alma mater because the gym floor is in bad shape.
Joyce is quite familiar with the Ohio Valley. He is a 1973 East Liverpool High graduate. Joyce is quite proud of Potter basketball.
TWO FUNDRAISERS are on tap to raise money for the Martins Ferry swimming pool. Park board members are looking to raise money for chemicals needed to get the pool ready for a June 1 opening.
A spaghetti dinner is set for Sunday, April 21 at the recreation center Cost is $7 for adults and $3.50 children 12 and under. The dinner, which runs from noon to 4 p.m., will feature spaghetti, salad, rolls, desert and beverage. Takeout available. A 50/50 drawing will also be held. Tickets are available at the rec center, city building and at the door. For more information, call Georgi Riser at 635-4527.
THE SECOND event is a pancake breakfast on Saturday, May 18 from from 9 a.m. to noon at the recreation center. Cost is $6.50 for adults and $3.25 children 12 and under. The menu consists of pancakes, sausage, beverage and Mickey Mouse waffles for the kids. A 50/50 drawing will also be featured. Tickets available at the rec center, city building or at the door.
The Martins Ferry Summer Swim Team and parents are helping with both fundraisers.
GOLF'S FIRST major unfolds Thursday at Augusta, Ga. My pick to win the Masters is Dustin Johnson, although I fear that Tiger may be the man to beat.
THE BELLAIRE Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Dinner/Membership Drive on Friday, April 19, at Bellaire Sons of Italy, 3348 Belmont St. from 6:30-9:30 p.m. This year's event will be a steak fry with baked potato, green bean casserole, salad, dessert and cash bar. All area businesses and their employees are invited to attend. The cost of the dinner is $15 per person. Each Bellaire Area Chamber of Commerce member will receive two free dinners. Reservations are required and must be received by Thursday, April 11. Contact the chamber office by phone 740-676-9723 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
COLT McCOY is a good fit as the backup QB for the 49ers. I still say he got a raw deal with the Browns after a fine rookie season.
THIS IS my final plea to help the Belmont County Council of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary's annual goodwill mission to the Chillicothe Veterans Hospital. This year, the auxiliary trip is planned for April 18. The ladies are looking for donations to take to the veterans currently in the hospital's care. Items such as crew socks, t-shirts, shorts, tablets, pencils, stationary, pens, candy, gums, chips and Slim Jims are helpful. The auxiliary will also accept house slippers, stamps, caps, new puzzles, toiletries and good clothing. No dry-cleaning clothes will be accepted. As always, monetary donations will be accepted. Donations may be dropped off to Betty Kotson at 4598 Noble St. in Bellaire. She may be reached at 671-3059. New to this year's collection is the auxiliary is accepting ladies' slacks and blouses, as well as new underwear.
PRESIDENT OBAMA says he will return 5 percent of his salary in support of federal workers. With what he makes and with his expense account, 5 percent is a drop in the ocean.
ALTHOUGH THE calendar said two weeks ago, spring officially arrived Saturday morning in West Bellaire. That is when I cut the grass for the initial time in 2013.
TODAY MARKS the official ends of the OVAC basketball season with the Sam Mumley Basketball Classic at Ohio University Eastern. We encourage hoop fans to take in the twinbill as some 60 talented hoopsters will end their prep careers.
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