Small town politics can prove volcanic.
Such is currently the case in the Jefferson County community of Rayland. A letter to the editor in Tuesday's edition by a Rayland resident fired salvos at the village administrator and mayor, even charging one village official with assault. The writer also said the village government has displayed fiscal irresponsibility.
A letter of such scathing proportions calls for an investigation.
I did that by talking to the village administrator as well as the mayor. They are very good people, who care deeply about the well-being of their village.
Rich Bibbo is the village administrator. He does his job with great efficiency and passion. The letter writer wanted to abolish his position. Should that occur, it would take a host of people to fill that void as a board of public affairs and a clerk for the board would need to be put into place.
Tammy Morelli has been the mayor for some eight years. That was after serving as a councilwoman.
She is a woman who loves her town. That is reflected by her many years as a public servant.
"When I first became mayor eight years ago, the village was in much financial trouble. We owed thousands," Morelli said. "But now we are in solid financial shape and things are going well. We are moving forward.
"Rich does a fantastic job as village administrator. He was mayor for 20 years and knows the village as well as anyone. He cares deeply about Rayland," Morelli added. "Rich, council and myself are all on the same page. There is nothing corrupt going on. We welcome anyone to our council meetings. I grew up in this wonderful town and I serve as mayor for the good of the people."
After talking with village officials and others close to the situation, I came away with the belief that the village is in good hands and moving in the right direction.
It would make sense for the dissenting letter writer to get on board and be part of progress instead of being a squeaky wheel.
THE MARTINS Ferry Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon meeting Tuesday at the recreation center.
Several committee reports were presented. Planning has commenced for the ever-growing Academic Awards Banquet scheduled for May 7 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling. The banquet attracted 830 people last year.
The initial two meetings have been held for the Soap Box Derby. It will be staged on June 9 with trial runs on tap June 2.
Two upcoming fundraisers were discussed.
The annual bowling challenge is in jeopardy of folding as only a handful of teams have entered. It is scheduled for March 2 at Park Legion Lanes. Interested teams and lane sponsors should call the chamber ASAP at 633-2565. The bowling tourney is a fun event and a needed fundraising vehicle for the chamber. We urge more individuals and teams to sign up.
The inaugural craft/vendor show, meanwhile, is having no such problems. It will be held April 6 at Hilltop Social Hall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and as of this writing, 36 vendors are in the fold. A silent auction and food will be featured. Workers are needed to help with setup and working the floor.
Superintendent of Schools Dirk Fitch reported that the district will receive no increase in state funding this year. He added the district is awaiting word of its academic ratings. Fitch said new bleachers, seating 302, have been installed at the track complex.
Councilmen Rob Duncan and Chris Cleary gave the report for the city. They outlined plans for the proposed RV Park at the former Scheehle Produce site. The councilmen also said demolition in the city is proceeding well, with three structures recently razed near the Dairy Queen while a longstanding nuisance structure on Spring Street has also been leveled.
Cleary added that Picnic In The Park will again be held, the day prior to the Soap Box Derby. It will include expanded arts and historic offerings this year.
DANICA PATRICK made NASCAR history by capturing the pole position for today's Daytona 500. Regardless, I doubt if she finishes in the top 15 in NASCAR's biggest race. My pick to win is Tony Stewart.
U.S. SENATOR Sherrod Brown has announced that the Sunset Heights Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded resources for operations and safety by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grants program. "Our first responders put their lives on the line every day across Ohio," said Brown. "These funds ensure that firefighters in Sunset Heights have the resources they need to perform their jobs safely." This is round 14 of the competitive Fiscal Year 2012 AFG announcements. The Sunset Heights Volunteer Fire Department was awarded $768,664. It helps firefighters and other first responders purchase protective equipment, vehicles, and gear, according to FEMA.
THE BELMONT County Council of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary is preparing to make its annual goodwill mission to the Chillicothe Veterans Hospital. This year, the auxiliary trip is planned for Thursday, April 18. 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 Jims are helpful. The auxiliary will also accept house slippers, stamps, caps, new puzzles, toiletries and good clothing. No dry-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. New to this year's collection is the auxiliary is accepting ladies' slacks and blouses, as well as new underwear. We commend Kotson and the auxiliary for the passionate and committed support to our veterans.
Kapral may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org