WEDNESDAY marked the filing deadline for the November general election. Belmont County Board of Election officials were inundated with a slew of filings.
I see that as a positive. More people running for office means more people care.
Several races and issues caught my attention.
The mayoral race on the Hilltop where longtime St. Clairsville Mayor Robert Vincenzo is facing opposition from two challengers stirs interest. Former councilman Tim Porter and Randy Mellott, a Saint Club fixture, are both seeking to dethrone Vincenzo.
I have always considered Vincenzo and St. C. synonymous. Two foes will only make it easier for the longtime mayor to retain his seat.
The boards of education are always races that draw scrutiny as schools play such an important part in our society. The Bellaire, Bridgeport and Martins Ferry BOE races all feature a unique twist.
In Bellaire, OVAC Executive Secretary/ Treasurer Tom Rataiczak is seeking a spot for the first time on the Big Reds' board. Rat is a retired teacher in the Bellaire district. His experience with Bellaire schools and his leadership skills demonstrated with the OVAC may provide a nice boost to the board.
In Bridgeport, Jerry Moore, a long-time mainstay with the Bulldogs' BOE, is looking to return to the board after losing in the last election.
In Martins Ferry, Nick Stankovich who expertly guided the school district for a decade as superintendent, is tossing his hat into the ring for a school board seat. Stankovich distinguished himself as the district's head man. Such savvy would be a board plus.
The November ballot always contains money requests. The most prominent again is the Bellaire School District. The board of education is bringing back the 1 percent earned-income request and is also placing a 3-mill renewal levy on the same ballot. The Bellaire voters have shot down three straight school requests for new money and the tax will again face tough sledding. It may also impact the renewal levy.
Possibly the most intriguing issue on the ballot is whether Ohio voters will repeal Senate Bill 5. It is Issue 2 and its outcome will speak volumes on the tenure of Gov. John Kasich. One of his Kasich's first moves as the state's new governor was pushing hard for the eventual passage of Senate Bill 5, which was opposed passionately by unions throughout the state.
BUCKEYE LOCAL cannot get it right when it comes to its baseball program.
The school board has opted to fire yet another Panthers' baseball boss. The latest victim was George Laase. A single vote changed Laase's career forever, as he was let go by a 3-2 board vote. That vote came after the district's Athletic Committee recommended Laase be rehired and supportive remarks from Superintendent Mark Miller.
Laase is a baseball junkie and a great ambassador for Buckeye Local, a school from which he graduated. His 41-56 Buckeye mark is no grounds for dismissal when looking at the landscape of Panther sports.
Laase deserved a better fate, as did his predecessor Larry DeLuca. He was also let go as Buckeye diamond coach despite being one of the best baseball minds you will ever find. DeLuca did things the right way and it cost him.
I don't know what the three Buckeye Local board members are looking for in a baseball coach. Two good ones got the short end of the bat. Maybe those three board members can broker a deal with Tony LaRussa.
THE FOREST Hills Community Association is holding a special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 7 to discuss the fate of the Forest Hills Community Center. The current administration will be resigning Dec. 31, 2011. No new rental reservations will be accepted after that date. The Forest Hills Association has two final events scheduled: a spaghetti dinner on Sept. 25 and Lunch with Santa on Dec. 4.
THE EIGHTH annual OVAC Hall of Fame Induction Banquet unfolds Saturday at WesBanco Arena. Tickets are still available for the gala event at $25 by calling OVAC Executive Secretary/Treasurer Tom Rataiczak at 391-2930. The eighth installment of banquet features another impressive collection of honorees with an endless amount of worthy individuals remaining to receive their call to the hall. Social hour begins at 4:30, dinner at 5:30 and induction at 6:30. For those attending the fete, we strongly urge them to come early and view WesBanco's display of conference memorabilia in the OVAC Museum impressively featured throughout the arena.
BISHOP DONAHUE lost a super principal when Dan Angalich left for Wheeling Jesuit University last month. The Bishops, however, gained an excellent replacement in Tom Wise. He has been a loyal BD soldier for many years, serving in many capacities at the McMechen-based school, including his current post as head boys' basketball coach. We hope Wise continues the impressive enrollment increases the school has experienced during Angalich's tenure.
FOR ONCE it appears the Bellaire Toll Bridge demolition plans are solid ones. With ownership issues settled, there is nothing that should stop a November razing. But seeing is believing.
Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com