Mall Lures Anchor Store; Dem Primary Election Is Assured

With the first salvo for the 2012 election has come the assurance there will be a Democrat primary election on March 6. The first two candidates to announce their intention of seeking county office – Katherine Curfman and Michael Shaheen – are Democrats seeking the county treasurer’s office being vacated by Joe Gaudio. That contest alone assures an election must be held to chose the nominee for the general election in November.

All the other county office holders, with the exception of Auditor Andy Sutak, are up for re-election in 2012. They include Mary Catherine Nixon, recorder; Christopher M. Berhalter, prosecuting attorney; Cynthia McGee, clerk of courts; Troy W. Balgo, coroner; Fred A. Thompson, sheriff, Frederick F. Bennett, engineer, and Commissioners Ginny Favede and Matt Coffland. Berhalter is the only Republican among the group. Sutak is not up for re-election because his term does not expire until March 13, 2015.

By virtue of some political conniving, Belmont County will for the first time ever have two primary elections in 2012. All of the local candidate races for both the Democrat and Republican parties will take place during the first primary on March 6. The second primary for the presidential and senatorial races will be conducted on June 12, which means taxpayers will be footing the bill for three elections next year instead of the usual two.

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Boscov’s is a major department store that has had a century of successful operation in five Middle Atlantic states.

Over the past couple of months I have been approached by a dozen or more different people about why nothing has appeared in this corner about that big new box store coming to the Ohio Valley Mall.

Main reason is because confirmation of that report has not come from a source that is qualified to make an announcement of such a venture. It has been a case of someone who heard it from another person who has a close contact with an individual who has direct knowledge of such a move. That’s about the same route of some of my sources. And most of them emanate from in and around the mall.

Actually, I’ve been hearing the reports about Boscov’s since early September, when Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Co., owners of the mall, told me “several promising developments are moving along quite nicely.”

Mall officials had confirmed since then that an extensive renovation program at the shopping facility would be undertaken in the new year and perhaps the arrival of Boscov’s Department Store may be one of the developments. Bell gave a hint of that possibility when he said the developments “might take a little while to come to fruition” and hinted 2012 will see changes at the mall. That was three months ago.

If a Boscov store is to locate in the mall, it would require an anchor location. When the JCPenney store moved out of the mall, that anchor location remained vacant for many months.

Then along came Levin Furniture Co. When the furniture store moved into the mall and occupied the former JCPenney spot, their lease was a temporary one for just three months.

At the end of that three-month period, the furniture store received a six-month extension of its lease. When that extension expired and the store was still in place, I asked the Levin manager if the store received another extension and if it was to remain at the mall permanently. He said only the management in Pittsburgh had those answers. So what started as a temporary move for Levin Furniture in October 2009 has lasted over two years.

Opening a store at the mall would be the first one for Boscov in Ohio. The store had its start in 1911 in Reading, Pa., when Solomon Boscov purchased $8 worth of merchandise and went around the countryside selling his wares. He later established one store in Reading and followed up with several others. In 1972 the first “out of town” store was opened.

Boscov’s now operates 40 stores – 24 in Pennsylvania, three in New York, seven in New Jersey, three in Maryland and three in Delaware. And a big majority of them are located in malls.

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For 47 of the 48years years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, my knowledge of the scene where the tragedy occurred was limited to the extensive television coverage of all aspects of how one of the most tragic events in the history of this country occurred.

But this year – last summer to be exact – I had the opportunity to be in the exact spot where the president was when he was gunned down and also the exact spot where Lee Harvey Oswald was hidden when he fired the bullet that claimed the life of the president.

Being there gave me a somewhat queasy feeling but a different perspective on the layout of the area. The main thing involved the distance from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building to the spot where the president’s car was passing at the time. To me it seemed a lot closer than appeared on TV screens.

That was the case when I stood at the exact spot where Oswald was secreted on the sixth floor of the building and also when I stood on the exact spot (marked with an X on the street opposite Dealey Plaza) where the car carrying Kennedy was at the time he was struck. I have since encountered some other people who have experienced the same feeling of the close proximity of the two locations when they visited the scene.

The building that housed the depository has been transformed into a museum and a tourist attraction that requires the better part of a day to view the multitude of displays about the Nov. 22, 1963 tragedy. Anything and everything you want to know about the assassination is housed in the building – everything except the proof needed to satisfy the claims of many that the assassination was a conspiracy that remains unsolved.

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Richland Township’s Fire Board members made no final decision when they met last week to study the qualifications and backgrounds of the five candidates chosen as possible successors to Greg Reline as fire chief of the Cumberland Trail Fire Department.

“We won’t make the appointment until we meet on Dec. 14,” explained board president Tom Costine. At that time, he said the four-member board will talk about the appointment in executive session and if they are all in agreement on an appointee, they’ll come into regular meeting to announce Reline’s successor.

A special committee from the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association interviewed the five candidates two weeks ago and came up with a recommendation which was given the board to consider.

Reline is stepping down as fire chief after more than two decades as head of the department in St. Clairsville. On one day he will end his service with the department and on the following day he will assume new duties as a Richland Township trustee, having been elected over two other candidates in the general election earlier this month.

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Two former News-Register staffers now residing in Estherville, Iowa, Ron and Mary Ann Menendez, rubbed elbows with some of the politically elite while attending the 65th birthday bash of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad last week.

Several of the Republican Party presidential candidates were there to extend birthday wishes and to also take advantage of the occasion to do some politicking. In attendance were Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. Both Mitt Romney and John Huntsman Jr. were no-shows.

All eyes will be on Iowa on Jan. 3, the date of the nation’s first presidential caucus, to see which of the candidates scores the initial political victory of the year. Ron and Mary Ann will be there and we expect to receive a first-hand report on what develops. Earlier this year Bachmann came out on top in a straw poll.

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If all the rain that plagued this area last week had come down as snow, we would very well have had a repeat of that memorable Thanksgiving Day 1950 snowstorm when from two to three feet of snow covered this area.

I was in Washington, D.C., at the time and the nation’s capital got from 10 to 12 inches which literally paralyzed the city. Back then the city was equipped with very little equipment to battle heavy snow accumulations.

For me it was a memorable occasion for more than just the heavy snow. I was on my way home from Washington for a visit with my family in Avella, Pa., after being notified that I had been drafted into the U.S. Army for the Korean War, a tour of duty that lasted 33 months.

Al Molnar can be reached via email at: