Primary election crucial to local schools

WE ARE two days away from campaign rhetoric going silent.

While Tuesday’s primary doesn’t carry the swagger of this past November’s presidential election, several issues of critical importance dot the ballot.

Many Eastern Ohio school districts are banking heavily on voter support for their respective levy requests. Our political expert Mark Thomas has detailed the issues quite incisively the last two weeks.

Life changes drastically in the Switzerland of Ohio School District should its 6.44-mill levy suffer defeat. Upon passage, it would generate $2.5 million. That money would avert massive layoffs, extensive academic reductions and deep cuts in athletics.

The district is in the midst of a major $80 million-plus structural facelift. New state-of-the-art schools are featured throughout the expansive district.

The euphoria and pride emanating from new schools will drastically change should the levy meet defeat. It will also likely spark some student exodus to neighboring districts.

BELLAIRE school officials have placed their sixth funding request in the last three years on Tuesday’s ballot. The last five tries have all lost by solid margins, the most recent coming in November.

To their credit, Bellaire school leaders have done an effective job of reducing what was once a $3 million plus debt. Staff layoffs and cleaning up food service operations has the district heading in the right financial direction.

Levy passage would effectively remove the school system from the state loan fund while also bringing back some of the academic programs which fell victim to the cutbacks.

TWO LOCAL school districts — Bridgeport and Buckeye Local — are seeking to pass levies to enhance safety.

Bridgeport is asking for a 1-mill, five-year levy to generate funds for a full-time resource officer. In these crazy and violent times, 1 mill is a small price to pay to help provide a safer school setting. I would be surprised if this levy doesn’t pass easily.

Buckeye Local, however, may not such an easy sell. The district is seeking a 2.1-mill, five-year emergency levy that would generate $630,000 annually for the three elementary buildings and high school. The funds would be used for safety upgrades at the district.

I have been in discussion with one Buckeye Local Board of Education member who is staunchly opposed to the levy, especially on the heels of the district receiving $800,000 in oil and gas money. The board member said even if passed the money may be channeled to other uses other than security.

St. Clairsville voters have two intriguing levies on their plate. One is for the school district and the other is for the Memorial Park District. Both are mapped in-depth today on Page A4 by Thomas.

I expect both will pass. St. C. schools are riding the wave of success and community spirit while Superintendent Walt Skaggs has expertly delivered superb cost-cutting leadership.

The Park District levy has previously tasted defeat. I cannot understand why. The levy is miniscule (.25-mill) and is needed to keep the park and pool open. I cannot believe voters would risk losing such a gorgeous recreational venue at so little cost.



BEN SNIVELY has been named the new head boys’ basketball coach at Marion Pleasant High School.

Ben is the son of John Snively, a Powhatan Point native with a well-stocked coaching resume. He currently coaches at Hilliard Darby.

Ben is a 1992 graduate of North Union High. He went on to play football at Muskingum.

His first varsity head coaching position was at Ridgedale High where he led the Rockets to a 90-85 record. During his Ridgedale tenure (2002-10), his charges won a Central District title in 2006 and sectional championships in 2006 and 2007. His teams were Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Blue Division champs in 2006 and 2007 as well.

Ben has also served as an assistant coach at Marion Harding and Sparta Highland high schools, and was an assistant on Highland’s 1998 state championship team.


THE NFL Draft has finally come and gone. The Pittsburgh Steelers were big winners in the college grab bag. They landed three blue chippers in linebacker Jarvis Jones of Georgia, running back Le’veon Bell of Michigan State and wide receiver Markus Wheaton of Oregon State. The Browns, meanwhile, were hampered with no second-round choice but did nab a stud in linebacker Barkevious Mingo of LSU. The Bengals greatly helped their cause by adding Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard of North Carolina.

I DON’T like to pay more money if I need not to, but I realize the $10 license fee hike would have made a major positive impact on road and bridge improvement in Belmont County. Commissioners Probst and Favede voted down the proposal Wednesday which would have generated more than $500K for the work. No new definitive alternatives were presented, leaving County Engineer Fred Bennett holding the bag, filled with potholes.

BELLAIRE Chamber of Commerce members will be planting flowers in the park on Monday at 10 a.m. with Bellaire CSA Fraternal Life as part of its “Join Hands Day.” The CSA will supply the flowers. Anyone wishing to help is asked to bring your garden gloves and trowel.

THE “TIPS For A Cure” fundraiser at Chapz Bar & Grill this past Wednesday turned out to be a huge success. According to event officials, Team Hocking Eye Care raised $3,090.91 in three hours. The team is expressing thanks to everybody who came out to support the team, those who donated, and anybody who helped in any way. A special thanks goes to Kevin Jordan, the owner, and Ashley Hines, a server at Chapz, all the servers, and cooks who were amazing in all they did to help us out.

AN OPEN house is being held today at the new Colerain Fire House. The event runs from 2-4 p.m. The public is invited. All local fire departments have been invited to attend the building dedication on this day.

The Colerain Volunteer Fire Co.’s new station is located behind the Hilltop Social Hall. Drinks and hot dogs will be served.

THE MONROE County Sheriff’s Office holds just one fundraiser a year. Its K-9 Unit Basket Bingo will be held Saturday, May 18 at the Woodsfield Squad Building. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. An early bird drawing and a new 4-in-1 entertainer will be featured. The event will also have a country store, 50/50 drawing and plenty of food and refreshments.

For more information, call Peg Buckalew at 472-5517 or Claudia Baker at 740-827-1525 or 472-1865 Monday through Friday.

Kapral may be reached at