Serviceman continues charitable efforts

JAMES RISER needs your help.

The 1995 Martins Ferry High graduate is a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Army. A few weeks back, I did a column on Sgt. Riser. He has undertaken a worthwhile cause in memory of Pat Tillman, the former NFL gridder who walked away from pro football to serve his country. Tillman was moved to do so by the tragic events off 9/11.

Tragically, Tillman was killed by friendly fire while serving with the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan in 2004. Shortly thereafter, the Pat Tillman Foundation was established by his family and friends.

The foundation is a national leader in providing resources and educational scholarship support to veterans, active service members and their spouses. The Tillman Military Scholars program aids all veterans, specifically the ever-growing population of veterans of Post-9/11 conflicts.

The Tillman Foundation has become a pet project of Riser, as he is passionate about raising money for the foundation. Riser has spent more than 17 years serving in the U.S. Air Force. He is currently deployed to Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan.

“Every April in Tempe there is an event held called Pat’s Run. This event helps raise money for the Pat Tillman Foundation to make the Tillman Military Scholars Program possible,” Riser said. “There are also Shadow Runs held in different cities around the U.S. to help out as well. This is what I set up here in Afghanistan, and to date I am the only one that has organized one of these runs outside the U.S.

“This year’s run will be held April 21. One way for me to raise the money is to have different service members sign up and participate in the event here,” he continued. “The other is to raise donations from family, friends, and anyone else who may want to help out.”

Riser’s fundraising efforts have encountered rough sledding. He still needs to raise $2,000 in just over a week to reach his goal.

Riser has stepped to the plate big time to aid the foundation’s fund-raising efforts. He has developed “James Riser’s Pat’s Run Fundraising Page Supporting our Military Veterans, Active Duty, and Spouses!”

Sgt. Riser exudes unabashed passion with this project. We hope anyone who can support it, does so. We need more Pat Tillmans and James Risers in the world.

Anyone interested in donating should go to the following


CHUCK BELL, from the Utica Land Group, was the featured speaker at the Martins Ferry Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday. The Martins Ferry High grad delivered an informative presentation on gas and oil drilling. Bell noted that the boom is coming and within a year its effects will be strongly felt throughout Eastern Ohio.

Bell noted that one of the drawbacks in Belmont County is the lack of infrastructure in place. He said the drilling companies are ready to move quickly and gravitate to areas that are receptive to their needs. Bell also noted that housing will be a big issue once the boom begins to have a bigger impact.

In other business, Richard Hord spoke about the upcoming Martins Ferry Hall of Honor induction ceremony. It is scheduled for Sunday, April 7 at the Martins Ferry High cafetorium.

The chamber’s inaugural craft/vendor fair is shaping up quite nicely. Some 50 crafters/vendors and 70 tables have been registered so far. The event will take place April 6 at Hilltop Social Hall in Colerain. The fair will also feature homemade soups and sandwiches. For more information, call 740-633-2565.


THE BELLAIRE Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon meeting at the Country Club Retirement Campus Thursday, featuring several speakers.

Lillian Siebieda, of LBS Consultants, delivered an informative presentation on lead safety. She noted that homes and buildings constructed prior to 1978 pose threats when undergoing renovations or maintenance. Her company provides lead safety certification for contractors, landlords and maintenances. She is a licensed Lead Risk Assessor and is certified in Healthy Home reviews.

ALSO SPEAKING was Susan West of the Ohio Valley Farmers’ Market. She updated chamber members on an indoor market held recently at the Bellaire Library. She noted that it is something that may done more frequently. The next one will take place on Nov. 30, in conjunction with National Small Business Day. She also spoke in support of the upcoming Bellaire school levy. Her comments were subsequently echoed by School Superintendent Tony Scott. He also said that a levy rally/showcase will be staged April 7, commencing at 4:30 p.m.

CHAMBER PRESIDENT Lou Ann Bennett said a new storage venue must be located for the village’s Christmas decorations. She added that the chamber will hold its annual dinner/membership drive on Friday, April 19 at the Sons of Italy from 6:30-9:30 p.m. For more information, call the chamber office at 740-676-9723.


THERE IS no doubt that Steubenville Big Red is the flagship football program in the OVAC. It must help when you have 27 coaches as revealed in the Steubenville teen rape case. I cannot fathom a grid program having that many coaches, even factoring in junior high programs. The Big Red football nation was cast in a bad light during the trial, one that will be tough to shed.

GOOD LUCK to Jeff Paolina as he embarks on his task as St. John Central’s new head football coach. The former Fighting Irish gridder and grappler, is quite familiar with the Irish football program and he will inject toughness and discipline into the program.

DR. JUDY Romano, of Martins Ferry, has been appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to the Early Childhood Advisory Council. Her term began Friday and she serves as long as Kasich wishes.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS of Belmont County is teaming up with the Barnesville High School Class of 2015 to put on a charity basketball contest on Tuesday, April 2. Various school groups will take on the Belmont Eagles in a benefit game set to tip off at 6 p.m. in the Barnesville High gym. Proceeds of the game will benefit Special Olympics and the sophomore class. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m., with concessions being offered by the class of 2015. Class members will be selling presale tickets and discounted concession vouchers through April 2. Fans can get a superdog, popcorn, soda and dessert, all for $4. A 50/50, money shot raffle and three-point contest will also be conducted at this entertaining event.

OUR THOUGHTS and prayers go out to sisters Melanie (Haswell) and Raeanne Ponzo upon the death of their father, Ray, Saturday morning. Ray was a Shadyside icon, serving decades as high school band director, guiding some of the finest musical units ever to grace the Ohio Valley. He also scripted a resume which included: former village councilman, civic leader and a high school coach.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader