The Belmont County’s businesses seeking advice

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County’s businesses sought advice Wednesday morning during one of their Coffee and Connections conferences, hosted via Zoom by the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce.

The process of reopening and conducting operations during the coronavirus pandemic led the discussion, with bad news for many nonprofit organizations and traditional summer events.

Chamber Director Wendy Anderson had Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul as a guest.

She said 28 people participated, representing business, education and nonprofit organizations.

“This was one of our largest ones. We actually had to send people away,” Anderson said.

Sproul outlined the phased reopenings.

“The nonprofits were wondering when they would be able to do some fundraising,” Anderson said. “We still are waiting for the governor to be able to list that and tell us.

“Some of the problems we’re having right now is funding for businesses that were kind of held up due to the coronavirus, so they couldn’t open. Now the issue is, what about the nonprofits?” Sproul said. “So the fairs, the festivals … they may not be able to open this summer, and that’s a lot of funding that they’re going to lose. So they asked me, and I’m going to ask Columbus, to see if there’s any financial help for those entities.”

“We found out that Barnesville’s pool is not going to open for the season. With all the precautions, it’s too much,” Anderson said.

The pool at St. Clairsville Memorial Park will be closed during Memorial Day weekend.

“The hotel pools are in the same boat that the outdoor pools are. We’re all waiting for the governor to make his decisions on how that’s going to look going forward,” Anderson added.

Belmont County Tourism Director Barb Ballint elaborated on summer and fall activities that will or may be canceled. Events such as the Rubberneck Tour and the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival are still in doubt.

Meanwhile, a representative from St. Clairsville Public Library said they have had an increase of data usage.

“People are driving and parking around the library and downloading books, they’re downloading magazines, movies,” Anderson said. “They’re trying to come up with a storytime where they can have families come in and do small group gatherings.”

Anderson said Belmont College and Ohio University Eastern were also represented and inquired when more normal behavior might resume.

“He said nothing’s going to be as normal. We’re all going to have to be flexible in what we do,” Andderson said of Sproul. “We are to wear our masks if we are out in public, and really should wear our masks when entering any businesses.”

Sproul also answered other general questions from restaurant owners about precautions for opening their doors to dine-in service Thursday.

“People are excited to get back out. They’ve been cooped up, we understand that, but again trying to get people to understand we have to do the social distancing. … We do not want this thing to spread. … If we have a huge spike, there may be repercussions and (Gov. Mike DeWine) may reconsider some of these openings.”

A representative from the Ohio Treasurer’s Office also participated, and Treasurer Robert Sprague will speak at the June 3 conference and answer questions about financial assistance.

“There’s going to be a lot of questions. If they requested money and they didn’t get it … if they didn’t request money and they want to request money … he’s going to be talking about the financial part of it,” Anderson said.

Anderson said Food Truck Fridays will continue in front of the Belmont County Courthouse in St. Clairsville, with spaces on the sidewalk marked so people know how to stand a safe distance apart. Wood Fired Pizza Co. will be featured today.


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