Project Providing Better Access to Mall, Plaza Is Completed

For the first time in about six months, traffic should be moving interrupted today through the busy Mall Road interchange situated between the Ohio Valley Mall and the Ohio Valley Plaza that has been reconstructed to provide easier access to and from the retail complex.

Completion of the project was expected Saturday afternoon following a few days of stop and go traffic and some brief tie-ups that occurred when the last coat of asphalt was being applied. That final phase of the project was somewhat delayed because of the weather.

To finish the project, Jim Graham, construction supervisor for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said the contractor had to wait for good weather to apply the top coat of asphalt. “We have that good weather now for three days,” Graham said as the paving was being done on Thursday. “So the project should be completed by Saturday afternoon. After the paving all that remains to be done is add the striping.”

The main focus of the $880,000 project was rebuilding and widening the ramp from westbound I-70 into the mall and plaza. Extra traffic lanes were added for both inbound and outbound traffic. The project also involved widening and resurfacing the access road to the motels, restaurants and other businesses on the east side of Mall Road.

Ron Salvador of Morristown, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel with a 21- year record of service in South Korea, Germany and Vietnam, will be the guest speaker at a Veterans Day service on Monday at 11 a.m. on the Belmont County courthouse plaza. Although today is Veterans Day, the holiday is being observed on Monday.

American Legion Post 159 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5356 are jointly sponsoring the tribute to veterans. Other speakers will include St. Clairsville Mayor Bob Vincenzo and Post 159 commander Joe Barker. Musical selections will be provided by the St. Clairsville High School Band. A free luncheon at the Legion home will conclude the observance.

All of a sudden the talk has switched from politics and candidates to more pleasant topics like the plans maturing for the coming holidays. The St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce and Horizon Telcom have been busy getting things ready for the annual Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony on Thursday.

Virgil Markovich of Iona Drive, St. Clairsville, has provided a 40-foot pine tree that will be erected on the Belmont County courthouse plaza and decorated on Tuesday. Mrs. Claus will throw the switch to light the tree at 6 p.m. Thursday, prior to the Christmas parade which is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

“We have as many and possibly more than the 69 units in last year’s parade,” commented Jennifer Woollard, chamber executive director. “We have four high school bands this year from St. Clairsville, Union Local, Caldwell and Harrison Central.”

Eugene “Doc” Householder of Barnesville, who was affiliated with the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival for many years and has been executive director of the Belmont County Tourism Council for the past 23 years, has been designated the parade marshal.

Members of the St. Clairsville Sunshine Rotary Club are going to get the Christmas season rolling with a “Pack the Truck” promotion next weekend to collect foodstuffs which will be passed on to needy families and individuals through the St. Clairsville Food Pantry sponsored by the St. Clairsville Council of Churches.

Rotarians will be stationed outside Wal-Mart on Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., at Sam’s Club on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at Riesbeck’s Food Market on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a truck provided by Kathy Osovich of Harvey Goodman Realtors to collect vegetables, fruits, pasta products, all kinds of canned and boxed foodstuffs as well as bar soap, deodorant, toothpaste and toilet tissue.

The food pantry provides food assistance to families living in the St. Clairsville School District who meet certain income guidelines. It serves over 300 individuals each month.

Another drive to aid needy families at Thanksgiving as well as Christmas is being conducted by Whiteside Chevrolet through December. Non-perishable and fresh items with current expiration dates can be dropped off at the car agency on National Road east of St. Clairsville on Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday from 9-5 p.m. The food will be distributed to local families in need for the two holidays.

With total confidence that he would gain the support of his constituents in the general election, newly elected Belmont County commissioner Matt Coffland plans to start legal process to divest himself of one possession that created an adverse issue and personal problems during his pre-election campaign.

Coffland is owner of the Tiger Pub in Shadyside and in January when the license for the establishment comes up for renewal, his plans are to turn the business over to his son, Matthew, under an LLC arrangement or a land contract sale.

“He’ll have total management of the place. Eventually I plan to include my daughter in ownership of the restaurant,” Coffland noted.

His ownership of the Tiger Pub produced some problems when state liquor agents entered the establishment in April to check for underage liquor sales. When he notified the customers in the establishment at the time that the bar was closed due to agents being on the premises, Coffland was charged with interfering with the agents in performance of their duties. That and other charges still have not been resolved.

Then in July Coffland was charged with assault on a liquor agent on duty at the Jamboree In The Hills over a beer can throwing incident. His trial was set for January but Coffland was so confident of his innocence, he asked that the trial be held prior to the general election.

Conviction on the felony assault charge could have resulted in his removal from office. Following a three-day trial that ended less than three weeks prior to the general election, Coffland was found not guilty. “That just proved what I was saying all along, that I wasn’t guilty.” Coffland commented afterwards.

In Tuesday’s election, Coffland piled up enough votes to outdistance his two challengers whose combined vote total was more than what the incumbent had gained.

An expansion of the Ohio Valley Mall was not included in the recently completed multi-million dollar renovation but one look inside the huge retail center gives the impression that it appears larger and more spacious than it had been. There are wide open spaces in the huge corridors that didn’t existed before.

Removal of the columns in the main center court, the concrete water fountains that had been located at both the northern and southern ends of the main corridor and also the floor to ceiling electrical conduits has provided the more expansive look.

During a “grand reopening” celebration and ribbon cutting on Saturday, hundreds of shoppers and visitors had their first glimpse of the “new look” mall with its wall-to-wall carpeting, rebuilt and redesigned center court and satellite courts, new skylights that allow rays of sunlight to shine into the mall, five refurnished rest areas as well as colorful new main and west entrances. The festivities connected with the renovation project completion will continue today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ease and comfort of the shoppers was apparently one of the goals of the massive project because new cushioned easy chairs and sofas have been installed in the five new rest areas as well as the larger one near the main entrance where new tables and chairs also are available for shoppers who take time to have a bite to eat. And to make their rest period even more relaxing, there are television sets available to watch while taking a break from their shopping excursions.

Continuing the festivities that started with Saturday’s ribbon cutting, Kenton Duty from the Disney channel program “Shake It Up” will be at the mall today from noon to 3 p.m. and comic book characters Spiderman, Captain America, Ironman and Thor will be there to extend their greetings. A magic show featuring an illusionist will be presented at 2 p.m. in the promotional court.

Al Molnar can be reached via email at: