AFTER MONTHS of campaigning, Ohio is poised for its primary election, part of Super Tuesday nationwide.
Some 10 states will hold primaries Tuesday, with the Buckeye State and Georgia being the biggest prizes in the Republican presidential rollercoaster.
The latest polls in Ohio have Rick Santorum holding a slim (35-31 percent) edge over Mitt Romney. Obviously, the race is too close to call.
Newt Gingrich is a non-factor in Ohio and may be facing realization that his days as a viable candidate are over, even if he holds serve in his home state of Georgia. Should he come up short in the Peach State, Newt is history.
I find it amusing that Santorum has clawed back from a longshot to a co-frontrunner. He has done so by being outspent bigtime by the Romney camp.
Should Santorum prevail in Ohio Tuesday, he will be a thorn in Romney's side the balance of the race.
Santorum spoke Feb. 20 in Steubenville and drew rave reviews. He must like Big?Red Country as he will pay a return visit on?Election?Day.
ON THE local front, two races dominate the spotlight -- the Belmont County treasurer's and sheriff's Democratic contests have sparked heavy campaigning.
To a lesser degree, the Belmont County Democratic commissioner's race between incumbent Ginny Favede and Lyle Bumgardner is also a contest holding much interest.
I expect those three races alone will spawn a larger voter turnout than usual.
Win or lose, we hope the candidates quickly remove their respective signs. This election features as many political signs as any in recent memory.
THE BELMONT County Council of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary is preparing to make its annual goodwill junket to the Chillicothe Veterans Hospital.
This year, the auxiliary mission is set for Thursday, April 19.
The ladies are looking for donations to take to the veterans currently in the hospital's care. Items such as crew socks, t-shirts, shorts, tablets, pencils, stationary, pens, candy, gums, chips and Slim Jim are helpful. The auxiliary will also accept house slippers, stamps, caps, new puzzles, toiletries and good clothing. No drying cleaning clothes will be accepted.
As always, monetary donations will be accepted. Donations may be dropped off to Betty Kotson at 4598 Noble St. in Bellaire. She may be reached at 671-3059.
We commend Kotson and the auxiliary for their passionate and ongoing support for our veterans.
I AM not a diehard NASCAR fan. However, I was riveted to Monday's prime-time telecast of the Daytona 500. The race was pushed back due to several rain delays. NASCAR officials would be prudent to start scheduling a few Monday night races to entice more viewers. It doesn't hurt either when the race track catches on fire.
MARTINS FERRY Chamber of Commerce officials would like to thank everyone who attended its sixth annual bowling challenge. Participating were 28 four-man teams. The winner of the non-league division was the team sponsored by the Purple Rider Booster Club. The league division winner was the team of Howard Duck, Don Cash, Tom Hohman and Zac Orzolek. Each winning team received $100. The chamber also extends thanks to the lane sponsors: The Citizen's Bank, Belmont County Prosecutor Chris Berhalter; Steele & Cook Insurance Agency; James C. Dawes Co., Inc.; Lesley Link-Harvey Goodman Realtor; Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland; Hot Rod Tattooing & Body Piercing and Zontini's Pizza.
RICK GOODRICH'S successor has finally been chosen. Kevin Gunn is the new Cambridge High football coach. He was hired Feb. 20. Goodrich accepted the John Marshall job earlier this year. Gunn is a 1985 Cambridge High graduate and has served as a Bobcat grid assistant for 24 years, working under four different head coaches during that span.
THE BELLAIRE Police Department is not receiving its proper recognition. Several weeks back, the Belmont County Sheriff's Department and Martins Ferry Police Department teamed up in solving a rash of burglaries. Their cooperation and teamwork were key into the arrests, as well as being well chronicled.
They deservedly earned much praise. The Bellaire police force also had a hand in breaking the case, but received no fanfare. Much of the same could be said when a purse-snatching episode occurred in the Bellaire Kroger parking lot. The suspects were apprehended with much of the credit being shared by two West Virginia enforcement agencies, leaving the Bellaire police again shortchanged.
BELLAIRE VILLAGE Council made a wise move during its meeting Thursday night to continue utilizing the services of the Neffs Fire Department. The Neffs' firefighters are a professional and efficient outfit that has protected the village quite well.
MUCH HAS been chronicled about the 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors in Hershey, Pa. In that contest, Wilt was 36-of-63 from the floor and 28-of-32 from the charity stripe. The Warriors downed the NY Knicks, 169-147, that night.
Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com