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Grant to help St. C. rec center

St. Clairsville’s J.B. Martin Recreation Center will be getting restroom upgrades soon, thanks to a grant from Give Belmont County. City officials thanked the organization Monday. Shown from left are Debbie Stanton, program officer with the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley; Eric Timko, employee at the rec center; Deb Reed, assistant at the rec center; Ed Bober, rec board president; Mayor Kathryn Thalman; Gabe Hayes, Give Belmont County board member and businessman at Wallace Pancher Group; Sean Hanley, rec center director; Jeremy Greenwood, St. Clairsville safety and service director; Lova Ebbert, Give Belmont County board member and co-owner of Ebbert’s Farm; Natalie Brown, president of MPR Transloading and Energy Services; Annette Williams, St. Clairsville finance director; and Dana Goletz, finance director’s assistant. Members of the Give Belmont County board not present are Toby Rice, president of EQT; Larry Cain of the Cain Family Farm; and Neil Rubel of Crossroads Farm.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The city’s J. B. Martin Recreation Center will get upgrades to its restrooms in the next year, after it received a grant of $16,000 from Give Belmont County to be used for no-touch faucets and toilets and more.

Mayor Kathryn Thalman said the recreation center has continued to be an important part of community life through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Especially with COVID being an issue, we want to mitigate any possibility of catching the virus,” Thalman said. “It’s very important because our recreation facility may be the only face of our city that some people have. … We want to provide some normalcy in this time of uncertainty. We want kids to still be able to come here and be safe.”

Thalman added that the recreation department staff continues to reach out to residents via the internet.

“They had games online. They had stories online for the kids to keep them engaged while they’re out of school,” Thalman said. “Now that we’re sort of out of quarantine, they have provided things for the kids.”

Thalman said in the future the recreation center looks forward to hosting senior citizens meetings again.

“This has provided a bedrock of our city,” she said.

Thanks went to recreation director Sean Hanley and program supervisor Debbie Reed. Reed wrote the grant application.

“The locker rooms, both the boys and the girls, they’re in bad need of repair. We also wanted to stop the spread of the pandemic,” Reed said.

Reed pointed out the wide range of uses for the recreation center.

“This is a polling location. We do all our sports programs here,” Reed said, adding that the AARP and the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce safety council meetings are held at the facility. “We have hundreds and hundreds of people who come to our rec center.”

The recreation center recently hosted more than 100 people unexpectedly. About two weeks ago during a heavy storm, the visiting football team from Oak Hill, Ohio, that was playing against St. Clairsville took shelter in the recreation center.

“Our doors are open to everybody,” Reed said.

She added that the state of restrooms became more apparent to many during that stay and likely assisted in making the St. Clairsville center more likely to receive the grant.

“We’re just thrilled to be able to help you,” Lova Ebbert, a member of the Give Belmont County board, said. “The rec center has touched so many lives.”

In addition Natalie Brown, Give Belmont County board member and president of MPR Transloading and Energy Services, added that Give Belmont County has received a $25,000 matching donation from the Bechtel Corp. This donation along with other corporate donations will be used for a matching fundraiser, where community members or businesses will have their donation matched.

“Through the generosity from the Bechtel Corporation, the community and businesses, we hope to raise $100,000 to give back to Belmont County,” Brown said.

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