Firm Linked to Oil and Gas Drilling Opens Office in Bannock

A land acquisition firm linked with the massive oil/gas drilling operations in Belmont County has opened a permanent office on Ohio 331 in Bannock to continue its work in this area.

DPS Penn is a privately owned Pennsylvania-based firm that has been temporarily stationed in Belmont County for approximately six months, contacting landowners and doing title research work in order to lease oil and gas rights from the property owners.

About 20 employees were on hand last week as the company began moving furniture and other equipment to the office, which is located just south of Bannock at 69500 Bannock-Uniontown Road. It will be the permanent office for the firm during its operations in the East Ohio area, which are anticipated to be for many years. Interstate Battery and FirstNet had at one time occupied the building.

DPS Penn is a land acquisition firm that has a strategic alliance with Chesapeake Energy, which just 10 days ago revealed plans to have its local base of operations located in Belmont County’s Fox Commerce Park, just west of St. Clairsville. Chesapeake completed the largest land transaction to date in the industrial park by purchasing a 28-acre site situated adjacent to the FedEx center, currently the largest landowner in the park. Chesapeake is a leader in Marcellus Shale drilling operations.

Clarence Williams, director of business operations for DPS Penn, said the Bannock site comprises 4,800 square feet of space and that there will be “three or four contractors” working out of the office. Michael Soboslai, district landman, is manager of the Bannock office, which he anticipates will be fully operational this week.

East Ohio operations for DPS Penn are concentrated in four counties – Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison and Columbiana – on behalf of Chesapeake Energy. In Pennsylvania their area of operation is in Greene and Washington counties. Company officials maintain their principal function is to conduct research and work with property owners to educate them on the process to fully develop their oil and gas rights.

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“BAM” read the sign in front of the newest store in the Ohio Valley Mall.

Those three letters, of course, stand for the Books-A-Million store where more than a dozen employees from other store locations were on hand last week to stack books on shelves and prepare the store for its opening. That occurred on Friday.

Melissa Eddy of Bethesda is manager of the store, which was opened for business just a month after the Waldenbooks store closed due to the bankruptcy of its parent company.

Eddy came to the mall store from the BAM store at The Highlands across the Ohio River, where she had been the assistant manager for the past four years. She is a graduate of St. Clairsville High School and received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio University Eastern, an accomplishment she is obviously proud of because she emphasized the “Eastern” to identify her college.

Although she has had a lot of help with the pre-opening preparations, her regular staff for the store will total nine employees. “But I feel we may need to add one or two part time people during the holiday period,” she added. Books-A-Million is the third largest book retailer in the nation.

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Before it becomes a full- fledged automobile sales center, the Thomas Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership, to be located in the former site of Roomful Express furniture store, will serve a vital purpose for which every needy family and individual in the 5-county East Ohio area, as well as those who serve them, will be very thankful.

Harland Thomas and his two sons, Brian and Robert, agreed to allow for a special holiday food distribution to be conducted from their newly acquired building, which is in the process of being renovated to accommodate their car dealership, a project anticipated to be completed in about eight months.

“We’re not going to be using the building until next year,” explained Robert Thomas. “This is a one time thing for us and it is a great program that will help a lot of people.”

The Thomases agreed to provide the building as the distribution center for 200,000 pounds of food to be brought in from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Grove City for distribution throughout the six-county area of Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe and Noble on Dec. 1 and 2. Food pantries in the various communities, Salvation Army centers, and churches that are involved in food distribution programs will pick up the holiday packages for distribution to their clients.

Officials of the Mid-Ohio program were convinced to do the local distribution through their contact with Dwayne Pielech, director of the Belmont County Jobs and Family Services. “Having a central distribution center in Belmont County will save a lot of time and money. Ten tractor trailer truckloads of perishable and non-perishable food will arrive here on Nov. 28-29 and stored in their (Thomas’) building and distributed on Dec. 1 and if necessary on Dec. 2,” Pielech noted. “That’s enough food to feed 15,000 people.”

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Candidates have come out in droves to become a part of the government in Belmont County’s 16 townships. A total of 56 aspirants will be listed on the November general election ballot – 33 of them seeking to fill one trustee vacancy in each of the townships and 23 seeking to fill the job of township fiscal officer.

There are contests in 10 of the 16 townships for trustee while those holding office in the other six townships are unopposed. A township by township breakdown of the races is as follows:

Colerain Township: Incumbent trustee Dennis E. Morrison is unopposed, but three candidates are seeking to replace William Nagel as the final officer-Vince Gianangeli, Ralph King and Angel Neal, all of Colerain.

Flushing Township: Incumbent trustee John Howell is opposed by Victor Dymidowski and Tillison Stewart Jr., all of Flushing; Mindy Wilson of Flushing is unopposed for fiscal officer.

Goshen Township: Incumbent trustee Shawn Thompson is being challenged by Clesson Swallie, both of Belmont. Fiscal officer Teresa Schafer faces opposition from Douglas Kemp, both of Bethesda.

Kirkwood Township: Timothy Lara of Piedmont is unopposed for trustee and Mary Barricklow has no opposition for fiscal officer.

Mead Township: No opposition for Ed Good of Shadyside as trustee or David Montgomery of Shadyside as fiscal officer.

Pease Township: Incumbent Roger Weaver is challenged for trustee by Joseph Callarik and Robert Dalton, all of Martins Ferry; and current fiscal officer Janice Bell of Yorkville is opposed by Steven Dulesky of Bridgeport. Pultney Township: Incumbent Richard D. Vannelle II is opposed by Mark Cervelli, both of Bellaire, for trustee. Nick Rocchio is unopposed for fiscal officer.

Richland Township: Scott Carnes, Rick Ferrell and Greg Reline, all of St. Clairsville, are candidates for the trustee post being vacated by Tom Costine; 15-year veteran fiscal officer Cindi Henry is facing opposition from Jack Ralston, both of St. Clairsville.

Smith Township: No contests. Stephen Baker is unopposed for trustee and Janette Carson unopposed for fiscal officer. Somerset Township: Incumbent trustee Charles Dunfee is opposed by J. Dean Winland, both of Barnesville. Diane Blattler is unopposed for fiscal officer. Union Township: Incumbent trustee John Spiga Jr., of Flushing is facing opposition from Shane Kildow, Philip Pabin and Kenneth Pubal, all of Belmont. Suz Pubal is unopposed for fiscal officer.

Warren Township: Russell Barker and Tom Householder, both of Barnesville, are contesting for the unexpired trustee term ending Dec. 31, 2013 and incumbent trustee David Hisson is being challenged by James Chappell, both of Barnesville, for the full term. For fiscal officer, Nancy Detling is challenged by Kent Gallagher and Amy Jackson, all are of Barnesville;

Washington Township: Sandy Milhoan of Jacobsburg is unopposed for trustee and Loretta Goddard of Alledonia, for fiscal officer.

Wayne Township: No contests. Russel Winland is trustee and Krista West, financial officer.

Wheeling Township: Jeffrey Azallion, Kimberly Snyder and Christopher Walisiak, all of St. Clairsvlle, are vying for the single trustee post; Mike Butler of St. Clairsville is unopposed for fiscal officer.

York Township: No contests. David Henderson is trustee and Dawn Lee, fiscal officer.

Al Molnar can be reached via email at: