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Time to remove signs

When residents of the Bridgeport area perceived that an injustice was occurring earlier this school year, they quickly rallied behind the man they saw as the victim.

The Bridgeport Exempted Village Board of Education sought to solve a problem that had been plaguing the district for a couple of years. Repeated flooding had left Bill Jobko Stadium and Perkins Field unfit for use. The covered grandstands were demolished because they were determined to be unsafe.

That meant student-athletes, particularly the high school football team, had to play home games at other facilities. Fortunately, the neighboring Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville school systems generously shared their facilities, allowing Bridgeport to use their fields for home games.

In an effort to obtain property where the district could build a new athletic facility, the Bridgeport school board voted to use eminent domain to take property that a nearby landowner did not wish to sell. Eminent domain is a tool governments can use to obtain real estate for public purposes. Board members took this step after property owner John Callarik declined an offer for the purchase of his land.

Callarik, a former mayor of Bridgeport, owns several businesses adjacent to the school complex, including a laundromat and car wash at a popular retail complex known as Chapter Square.

When local residents heard that the board would use eminent domain against Callarik, they protested, attended board meetings and posted signs around the area. Those signs carried messages such as “Eminent domain is stealing property” and “World War II veteran treated unfairly.”

The district has since reversed course and is working to find ways to revive Perkins Field. Already, one study has been conducted with more on the way.

Good for those officials for listening to district residents.

Despite their change of direction, however, those signs remain in place around the region. Their message was effective. It is time for the people who posted those signs to take them down.

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