GOOD JOBS are part of the American Dream. In recent times they have not always been the easiest thing to find in the Ohio Valley.
But times are getting better. Gas and oil are helping the employment picture.
A major player, however, in the employment realm is the annual Ohio Valley Job Fair. The eighth annual event played out Wednesday.
The job fair is under the direction of Mike Schlanz, director of Belmont County's Ohio Means Jobs. Thanks to his nurturing, the local job fair has enjoyed impressive growth.
Nearly 118 employers took part in the Ohio Valley mall-based event Wednesday. Some 600-700 job-seekers were in attendance in hopes of landing that ideal job.
"It was a good day," Schlanz said, noting that 118 employers had set up booths this year compared to last year's 100. "It's grown every year. There are just as many if not more people here than last year."
Schlanz is a big reason for the success of the job fair.
"While it takes many individuals to insure the success of the job fair, the commissioners are especially grateful to Mike Schlanz who is the coordinator of the job fair," said Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas. "One of the most important jobs of the Belmont County DJFS, beyond helping our young and elderly, is to provide as many resources as possible to our residents so that they may be able to secure jobs.
"The turnout this year was phenomenal and the Belmont County Commission is extremely grateful to all of the Ohio Valley employers who attended," he added. "All three of us (commissioners) spoke with many satisfied employers who said traffic was good and that most of them were hiring."
Commissioner Matt Coffland echoed those sentiments.
"Our local job fair is as nice as one as their is," Coffland said. "Everyone I talked to was ecstatic about it. Mike (Schlanz) does a tremendous job with the fair."
THE 14TH annual Leukemia & Lymphoma (LLS) Society Light the Night Walk will be held on Thursday, April 10 at Wheeling Jesuit University. Last year's walk raised more than $50,000 from the local community.
This year, The Times Leader is honoring one its former colleagues and friends -- Rich "Hoot" Gibson. We have formed a team to raise money in Hoot's memory. Our team is named "Reality Check," the name Hoot used for his weekly column.
Lifestyles Editor Shaunna Dunder Hershberger chaired the Light the Night Walk last year and is spearheading our efforts at The Times Leader this year.
Our goal at the paper is to raise $1,000. To make that come to fruition, several Eastern Ohio high schools have generously agreed to pass the hat at one of their softball or baseball games or track meet with proceeds going to aid our cause.
We have also received one generous donation from a local businessmen. Several Times Leader employees, including myself, will be walking April 10 in Hoot's memory. He was a special writer and even better friend. I had the pleasure to work with Hoot for 32 years.
Anyone wishing to help us attain our fundraising goal can do so by visiting the team's fundraising page: pages.lightthenight.org/wpa/Wheeling14/RealityCheck or by sending a donation to: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 333 E. Carson St., Suite 444, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219, ATTN: Ohio Valley Walk 2014 Team Reality Check. Donations in Hoot's name can also be sent to Shaunna at The Times Leader, 200 S. Fourth St., Martins Ferry 43935.
THE BELLAIRE bridge razing saga continues and continues and continues. The demolition company which owns the span now says it is bankrupt which may lead to liquidation. I say once again, the bridge will never come down, unless it decays piece by piece. I am singing to the choir, but the once-glorious span should have been connected to Ohio 7.
THE "FRIENDS of the Library" Association of the Bellaire Public Library, is sponsoring a "Soup, Salad & Sandwich Luncheon" to be held in the Community Room at the Library on Wednesday, April 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $7 and you can eat-in or carry-out. Desserts are extra. All proceeds will benefit the Bellaire Public Library and its many programs that it sponsors for our children, teens and adults. For tickets, stop in the library and purchase them at the desk. Please make plans to come and have a delicious lunch while helping out our beautiful library at the same time.
KUDOS GO to Georgi Riser and all those who helped make the breakfast fundraiser a success Sunday at the Martins Ferry Recreation Center. Proceeds go to the ongoing efforts to get the Martins Ferry pool open for the summer season. The Mickey Mouse waffles were tremendous.
JIM CRUTCHFIELD is amazing. The juggernaut he has built at West Liberty University is remarkable. He has made the Hilltoppers an annual presence in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight. He does its without superstars, but rather with blue-collar and team-oriented players. He has built the Toppers for the long haul. National runnersup is a monumental achievement.
MARTINS FERRY officials made a wise move recently when they switched the traffic light at the intersection of Hanover Street and South Fourth Street to a flashing red. The intersection is a busy one. Traffic flows much smoother now. Previously, a left hand turn coming up Hanover Street may result in a motorists sitting at the light for several changes.
LOVE HIM or hate him Johnny Football is a national celebrity. That point was reinforced when Manziel held his Pro Day at Texas A&M University Thursday. It was far from your normal Pro Day. Manziel attracted the usual amount of pro personnel gurus but they took a backseat to attendees President George and Barbara Bush as well as Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
MAJOR LEAGUE Baseball launches its regular season this week. I am calling for the Tigers to best the Cardinals in the World Series. They both have the depth in starting pitching to last 162 games. I also expect the Pirates to return to the playoffs.
IF THERE was any doubt about the best college basketball conference, March Madness has removed it. The Big Ten is a cut above the rest with three teams making the Elite Eight.
IT WASN'T good news to see that West Virginia coal exports declined 26 percent last year, but the $8.4 billion total was still the third highest in state history. Canada is the top importer of Mountain State coal ($1.8 billion), well ahead of the Netherlands ($661 million) and China ($596 million). Italy was a surprising fifth with $470 million. If those countries can burn so much coal, why not the U.S.?
Kapral may be reached at email@example.com