Another Motel Planned; Seven in Race for ‘Your Honor’ Title

Motel construction fever has hit Belmont County.

With two motel projects already under construction and scheduled for completion by the end of the year or early in 2013, another such facility is apparently planned for development in the near future off Exit 208 in Morristown.

A sign posted on a wooden shed in the middle of the 5.3-acre site adjacent to the McDonald’s Restaurant off Ohio 149 carries the message for the proposed facility. It reads: Motel coming soon.

Real estate documents on file at the Belmont County courthouse list the owner of the property as Parminder and Sarabjit Sandhu, who own a convenience store/gas station on Ohio 149 that links to the McDonald’s Restaurant. The site is situated between the westbound ramp from Ohio 149 to I-70 and the restaurant.

On Tuesday I visited the convenience store to seek information on the project but Sandhu sent word through his wife that plans for the project are not ready to be released.

The proposed motel site is less than a mile from where an RV/camper park is being developed to provide temporary housing for workers coming to Belmont County because of the Marcellus and Utica Shale oil and gas exploration. The park is located opposite the Doan Ford agency.

Both the camper park and the proposed motel site are located on the stretch of Ohio 149 between I-70 and National Road – an area that has been the focal point of rapid business development over the past few years.

At the present time work is underway to add 140 rooms or suites to the county’s hotel/motel accommodations. Within the past month, construction has been started on an 85-room Microtel Inn & Suites located adjacent to the Hampton Inn on National Road east of St. Clairsville. Prior to that, work was started on a 55-room Comfort Inn on National Road at the top of Blaine Hill. It, too, is set to open late this year or early next year.

A hotly contested race is shaping up among Belmont County’s lawyer population seeking to assume the Western Division Court judgeship that will be vacated by Judge Harry W. White at the end of this year.

Seven Belmont County attorneys have either announced their candidacy, have filed their candidacy petitions with the Belmont County Board of Elections or have secured the necessary nominating petitions for the office in the Nov. 6 general election.

Wednesday is the deadline for filing candidacy petitions for that non-partisan office. It is also the deadline for villages, cities, townships, fire departments and school boards seeking to have tax issues on the ballot.

Attorneys who have indicated their interest in the Western Division Court judgeship include Eric Costine of St. Clairsville, David Trouten of St. Clairsville, William L. Thomas of Martins Ferry, Charles Bean of St. Clairsville, Helen Yonak of Centerville, Kevin Flanagan of Bellaire and Todd Kildow of Belmont.

As of Thursday, only two of the aspirants – Costine and Trouten – had filed their petitions with the elections board. Judge White announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking re-election to the jurist post he has held for more than 30 years.

Although there is a wide field of candidates for the judicial term that begins on Jan. 1, 2013, there is only one candidate for the term beginning on Jan. 2, 2013. Northern Division Court Judge Frank Fregiato is the lone candidate running unopposed for re-election.

As of late last week 10 levy issues had been filed with the elections board. Two are countywide issues a new 1 mill levy to provide funds for upgrading the 911 system and a renewal of a 1 mill levy for the county’s senior services program that is now being administered by the Belmont County Department of Jobs and Family Service.

Other levy issues are to be decided by voters in Bellaire, Bridgeport, Shadyside, Flushing, Pease Township and Cumberland Trail Fire District.

At a hastily called meeting of the Belmont County Board of Elections last Thursday, approval was given to the purchase of 50,700 ballots for use in the Nov. 6 general election. With that approval was a breakdown of the number of ballots each of the 70 precincts in the county will receive.

Because the deadline for sending absentee ballots to servicemen in far off lands falls on a Saturday – Sept. 22- a day the office is normally closed, the board authorized employees to keep the office staffed in the event there may be last minute absentee ballot applications coming in the mail that day. Absentee ballots will be sent out Oct. 2 to Belmont County residents who file requests for them.

Belmont College and the director of its Historical Building Preservation program, Dave Mertz, are playing a role in the restoration of the former sheriff’s residence at the century old Belmont County jail that was vacated 15 years ago.

One odd part of the old structure is the presence of a stained glass window located near where the residence is linked to the jail. It measures about eight feet in length with a width of about three feet. The lower half was blocked from view by a brick wall installed after the original construction.

“Dave and his class are recreating the stained glass window,” explained Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede who has played the lead role in getting matching finances for the $679,000 grant that was received to restore the rundown residence. “That alone is going to save us about $7,000;” she exclaimed. “Dave has been a tremendous supporter of the residence restoration and was thrilled to take on the stained glass project,” she added.

Mertz said his class has started the sensitive work which he said begins with “cleaning, staining, painting and priming.” But he had some unexpected news. The lower half of the window which was blocked by a brick wall is not stained. “It’s just plain old glass.” He said to make the lower half of the window match the upper half would be a very involved and costly project.

St. Clairsville businessman James F. Kacsmar has gained a new title of “Chartered Global Management Accountant” (CGMA), to add to his already impressive list of designations as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Accredited Estate Planner (AEP). Now in his 40th year of public practice, Kacsmar in 1979 founded Kacsmar & Co., which is now known as Perry & Associates.

CGMA assists businesses with their finances, budgeting, internal audit, strategic planning, operations, risk management, governance and more. In addition to his private business concerns, Kacsmar represents Belmont County on the Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association.

Many motorists undoubtedly suffered pump shock when they went to buy gasoline last week. In one day the price was hiked by 21 cents or more a gallon. That pushed the price back up to $3.699 a gallon or more at some stations.


The deer are getting just a bit too cozy. Arising at 6 Friday morning, I looked out to my back yard to see three deer, a mother and two young ones relaxing on the lawn. The mother and one young appeared to be asleep. When I opened the door, they got up and just stared at me for a few minutes as I muttered some unpleasantries about their presence. Then they turned and very slowly sauntered off into neighboring yards. Two hours later a fourth deer, probably the mate, came into the yard and walked within inches of my garden without taking a bite. Probably because it has already been ravaged by deer and the weather.

It’s moving day tomorrow at the Ohio Valley Mall. Renovation of the mall administrative offices has been completed paving the way for manager George Diab and his staff to move back and vacate the temporary office set up about two months ago.

Completion of work in that section of the mall included the public restrooms which were closed at the same time as the mall office. They have been renovated and will be open to the public on Monday. That will be good news to many mall walkers who have refrained from their early morning walks since that part of the mall was closed off.

Al Molnar can be reached via email at: