I ENTERED the inner sanctum of the Martins Ferry Police Department Friday.
Police Chief John McFarland afforded me that unique opportunity as part of the two-day Belmont County Drug Blitz, orchestrated by several law enforcement agencies.
Mac teamed me with Officer Chad Kuhn and his partner Ecko, the K-9 police dog. It was a perfect match as Chad is a sports junkie and former all-stater football and baseball player at Toronto. He, like myself, is big on food.
The shift was long, 12 hours to be exact (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.). But time evaporated quickly. Good company and fear of the unknown does that.
The day-long mission was eye-opening.
Martins Ferry gets it right when it comes to its police department.
First, the department has a great chief in McFarland. He is known as The Urban Meyer of Martins Ferry, as he is also a coach with the Purple Riders football program. How he can juggle all the time constraints with such success is mind boggling.
But one common thread I heard all day was the respect his officers have for him.
Many said, "they would run through a wall for Mac. He gets down and does the dirty work with us." Being physically imposing as well as a former Purple Rider grid great, also helps.
Mac is deserving of all the praise as he took over a scandalous-shrouded post and turned it into one of success and vision.
Mayor Paul Riethmiller and the city's administration also drew kudos from the men and women in blue. They appreciate the mayor and his administration for having the officers' collective backs, as reflected by a well-stocked staff and state-of-the-art equipment.
I commend the energetic mayor for riding with his officers each day of the Drug Blitz. That is hands-on care for your force.
The Ferry police force has 22 officers, 14 of those full-time. Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk would love to have such numbers.
McFarland provides the leadership, while also working shoulder-to-shoulder on patrol with his officers.
The staff is a well-meshed blend of veteran savvy with young and athletic officers, who are aggressive in the quest to bust druggies. The force has several women officers, capable in their duties and respected by their peers.
It is safe to say the Ferry Police Department is a well-oiled machine, one which is embraced by the public as well. I couldn't believe how many people -- young and old -- waved to our cruiser on our rounds.
"I am really proud of our police department and chief," said Councilman Anthony Sarratore. "I also think our city residents are realizing what a great job they are doing."
One thing I found out early on in our daylong blitz is that Ecko has a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde personality. If Ecko doesn't like you, he obviously doesn't know you. Once he warms up to you, watch out...he must have licked my face 500 times.
BELLAIRE SCHOOL Superintendent Tony Scott has scheduled three informational meetings to help educate voters, as well as cultivate support for the district's 8.7-mill levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Each of the three schools will hold a meeting, all beginning at 6:30 p.m. The elementary school kicks off the sessions this Wednesday, followed by the middle school on Wednesday, Oct. 17, while the high school hosts a Wednesday, Oct. 24 meeting.
It would be wise for all those in the district to attend one of the sessions to get a better understanding of the school system's plight.
SONS OF ITALY
THE BELLAIRE Sons of Italy is holding two special benefits in the coming weeks.
First, on Sunday, Oct. 14, the Sons are staging a benefit dinner for Allyson Martin. The Bellaire resident is scheduled to have a bone marrow transplant in the near future.
Tickets are $10 each and are available at the door. The Sons of Italy home is located on Belmont Street.
Also, on Friday, Nov. 9, the Sons are holding a free dinner for all military veterans and their families. It will run from 4-7 p.m.
The Sons are sending out invitations the local Legion, DAV and VFW organizations.
The Sons of Italy is one of the good things going in Bellaire. The membership is community-minded, making a positive impact throughout the Ohio Valley. Moreover, the Sons' Thursday Past Night is legendary, not to mention their well-renown sausage.
I KEEP scratching my head on the ongoing debate over who will win the American League MVP award. It's a no-brainer. The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown. It's only been done 16 times. Plus he carried the Motown men into the post-season. For some reason the Angels' Mike Trout has a big bandwagon of support. Cabrera should be a unanimous selection. Trout gets the Rookie of the Year as a consolation prize.
A?MEET?the?Candidates Night will be held at the Martins Ferry?High Cafetorium on Tuesday,?Oct. 16 at 7 p.m., featuring local candidates in the Nov. 6 election.
The Martins Ferry?Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the event and has sent out invitations to candidates for U.S. representative, state senator, state representative, county prosecutor, sheriff, commissioner, western and northern court judges and representatives for the Senior Services and 911 levies. The event is free and open to the public.
THE U.S. team in the Ryder Cup event last weekend should be ashamed of itself. The Americans held what appeared to be an insurmountable 10-4 lead at one point and had home turf advantage, playing near Chicago. The Red, White & Blue golfers went belly up Sunday in the singles matches. Heavyweights such as Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker failed to stop the bleeding at crunch time. The Europeans appear to relish the team element while the Americans are individualists.
THE FOREST HILLS Community Association will hold a "special meeting" on Monday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at the former center. The meeting will focus on how to disperse the funds from the sale of the center. The scholarship committee will discuss input from previous meetings. All members are urged to attend.
MITT ROMNEY clearly won Wednesday night's debate in Denver. He needs to do it on two more occasions to give his candidacy much-needed legs. Obama dropped the ball in a chance to virtually lock up the race. The incumbent will get a boost from the latest unemployment and jobs figures.
DR. GREGORY Merrick should be commended for putting on another stellar basketball clinic a week ago at Wheeling Jesuit University. Doc is a basketball junkie and brings in a tremendous group of speakers. Prep coaching legend Bob Hurley was riveting. The clinic draws a nice-sized crowd, but unfortunately, much of the attendance is made up of out-of-the-area coaches, while OVAC should be much better represented.
JOHN MAGISTRO just keeps on winning. The Bellaire native and St. John Central grad guided Westerville Central to a 35-14 win over Westerville North Friday. It was win number 202 in his remarkable career. His 6-1 Warhawks are currently sixth in their computer playoff region, heading into this week's game against Westerville South.
THE JB Green Team has a new Jefferson County home.
It is now located in downtown Steubenville, at 115 S. 3rd St., Suite 109. The new mailing address is P.O. Box 4699, Steubenville, OH 43952.
Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com