Thomas to Step Down as Village of Morristown Mayor

A new, full time mayor will take office in the village of Morristown in 2010 even though there was not an election held for that office in the November general election.

Another unusual aspect of that general election was the fact that there were four members of the present council up for re-election but the ballot contained only one name for voters to select. One present councilman filed for re-election but three failed to do so and there were no new candidates in the running. Which means three council members will have to be appointed for next year.

Part of the somewhat confusing village government situation was created when present Mayor Robert Thomas took a three-month leave from his position because of the stress from his public and private business matters. He intends to step down as mayor. “I took three months leave because I had too many things on my plate,” Thomas declared.

During the time Thomas has been on leave, Gordon Price, the village council’s president pro-tem, has been handling the mayor’s duties and he has said he will assume the office when Thomas steps down. Filling the mayor’s position and appointing councilmen to fill the vacancies that weren’t filled during the general election is expected to take place at council’s final meeting of the year on Dec. 14. The only councilman elected in November was Warren D. Groves.

“It was a case of meetings after meetings,” Thomas declared. “Going to all those meetings, trying to handle the mayor’s duties, and running a business at the same time was getting the best of me. It was getting too much to handle so I decided to take a leave.” Thomas’ business is operating the Thomas Jeep, Eagle, Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge automobile agency in St. Clairsville.

Before taking his leave, Thomas said he discussed his plans with Price, who consented to step in as acting mayor and also to assume the mayor’s position full time at the beginning of the new year.

“But I don’t intend to leave village operations entirely,” Thomas pointed out. “I’ll stay on as a member of council. There’s not quite as much responsibility as a councilman.”

When he took office as mayor, Thomas said his first big concern was overseeing the completion of the $1.9 million sewer project in the community. “That took an awful lot of my time.” Then came another time-consuming project in the development of a park and recreational complex on 76 acres of ground donated to the village by Paul and Betty Modie.

“It was getting so I didn’t have a chance to pay attention to village operations. Gordon has done that and he’s been doing a good job,” Thomas added.

Price noted that one problem with the park development occurred when the individual overseeing the project stepped down earlier this year. “Now it’s in my lap to finish,” said Price, who is an independent contractor specializing in restaurant development.

“The park is going to be something the town can be proud of,” Price declared. It includes six baseball fields, five of which are 90 percent complete, bleachers, two shelters, basketball courts, walking trails and other facilities. On a large portion of the land where originally nothing was planned, Price said “we’re going to utilize it by putting in an 18-hole Frisbee golf course. That’s a growing sport. It should attract a lot of people.”

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What was pure conjecture on Black Friday at the Ohio Valley Mall turned out to be factual three days later. On the Monday after the wild shopping day, mall manager George Diab cited the results of a study conducted on that day which showed the traffic flowing into the shopping center was much greater than the previous year.

“We did a traffic count on the day after Thanksgiving and it revealed we had a bigger turnout of shoppers for that big day,” Diab said. He anticipated that based on the size of the shopping crowds in the mall that day. “I also talked to every store manager and 95 percent of them said their business exceeded last year.”

He then referred to an old saying that originated many years ago with renowned author Mark Twain to emphasize the mall’s stature: “Rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated.”

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To say the mall’s newest anchor store – Levin Furniture – had an auspicious opening on Friday would be putting it mildly. Over the years I’ve been in quite a few furniture stores and never have I seen so many customers in them at one time. On Friday afternoon I visited the store and there were at least 50 to 75 people looking over the furniture. And it seemed there were almost as many eager sales people taking care of them.

“We’re real satisfied with the opening,” exclaimed Phil Porterfield, co-manager of the store. “We had people waiting in line for us to open this morning.”

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Small business owners in the area may be able to learn some helpful operational hints during an open house to be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday by the Belmont County Department of Development Community Improvement Corp. at its office at 117 E. Main St. in St. Clairsville.

“The main purpose of this open house,” explained Sue Douglass, executive director, “is to invite interested members of our local business community to visit us and see what is available to them as they strive to keep their businesses healthy.” She said the DOD/CIC office “is here to facilitate the successful operation of all area businesses, of any size or description.”

Representatives from various resource agencies will be present from 1-3 p.m. to meet business people interested in services offered by them. They’ll include representatives from the state office of development, the Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association, the Small Business Development Center, secretary of state and the Muskingum County Business Incubator. “We are fortunate to have this professional network available,” Douglass added.

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Even though I did a lot of griping and complaining during the summer about my garden – especially the way deer were using the tomato plants for a midnight snack – it ended up being quite productive for a small plot.

Just last week we consumed the last tomato produced from the garden and two weeks ago removed the last head of cabbage.

Before the first heavy frost hit, I picked a basket of green tomatoes – about three dozen – and kept them in house where they slowly ripened. The last one was used in our dinner salad on Nov. 30.

There’s no more garden but the deer continue to come around. A few days ago three of them were in the yard across the street from me and headed in my direction until they saw me. Then they stopped and just stared for a couple minutes before turning around and heading in the opposite direction. I found out later from my neighbor that they have been feasting on her flowers.

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Although it is not a national holiday, there will be many displaying the flag on Monday for good reason – remembering the day when a vicious, sneak attack on Pearl Harbor threw the United States into World War II. It was on Dec. 7, 1941, a “day of infamy” as described by President Roosevelt.

Al Molnar can be reached via email at: