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You’ve got a bet!

Mayors quenching thirst for competition

T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK Martins Ferry Mayor John Davies, left and St. Clairsville Mayor Kathryn Thalman place a friendly bet on the outcome of Friday’s high school football game between the Purple Riders and the Red Devils. They made the wager to celebrate the return of high school sports.

MARTINS FERRY — Stay-at-home orders and social distancing recommendations left many people in the Ohio Valley with a thirst for football, and the mayors of Belmont County’s two cities are no exception.

On Tuesday, St. Clairsville Mayor Kathryn Thalman and Martins Ferry Mayor John Davies celebrated the return of high school sports by placing a friendly bet on the matchup between the Red Devils and the Purple Riders at 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Clairsville’s Red Devil Stadium. Each mayor is putting a case of Gatorade on the line, with all the drinks to be given to the winning team. The mayor of the city with the losing team will wear the winning team’s jersey for a week.

The two cities have been working closely together this year, and Davies and Thalman both said they are pleased to see some things getting back to near normal after months of coronavirus-related restrictions. In recent months, Martins Ferry has helped St. Clairsville analyze leaks in its water distribution system as St. Clairsville prepares to transfer from its surface water system to Belmont County’s well water system. The county itself is upgrading its distribution system to accommodate this and other needs.

Meanwhile, Martins Ferry also is upgrading its water system as it prepares to sell water to Bridgeport, which recently discovered some of its wells are contaminated.

“When we met and were talking in the spring and he offered to help us with the water … it’s so nice to have an ally and a friend. But the football game, we said, ‘Let’s have a friendly wager when it’s time for the game,” Thalman said.

Thalman and Davies said the youth of both communities, and those across the county, have felt the lack of regular and expected activities. The football season returned, but it is shorter than usual and stadium capacity is limited to allow for social distancing.

“Especially kids in their senior year, I think it’s sad that everything’s been so curtailed,” she said. “It’s a shame this COVID has screwed up everything.”

“I know (the season’s) a lot shorter than it normally is. It would be a good thing for the kids to get out,” Davies said. “They don’t give out a lot of tickets.”

Thalman said she hopes the cooperation between the two communities will continue.

“They have been nothing but wonderful to us, and anything we can do to help Martins Ferry, we will,” Thalman said. “We’re neighbors.”

“We need to all stick together,” Davies said.

Other city leaders also have faith that their own team will prevail on Friday. Betty Suto is an administrator at the Martins Ferry City Building and aunt of Martins Ferry City Schools head football coach Chas Yoder.

“They’re going to give them all they got,” she said of her hometown’s Purple Riders.

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