Land Deal Raises More Mall Hopes; Vets Get Rousing Welcome

A lot of moving and relocating is going on at the Ohio Valley Mall and there is word that such moves are going to continue for some time and possibly, in the not too distant future, may involve the vacant acreage west of the shopping center that had been planned for development many years ago but failed because certain highway improvements did not materialize.

With the announcement last week that MC Sports will be moving into the mall within the next few weeks, the largest retail space in the shopping center outside of the anchor store locations will be filled by the new tenant.

The sporting goods store will occupy the space where the Fun Factory is currently located and which previously had been the home of Old Navy. It is a 23,000-square- foot space, located next to Sears and across the corridor from the new location for Books-A-Million.

The Fun Factory will be relocated outside the mall to where the Deal$ store had been located adjacent to David’s Bridal. Mall manager George Diab said MC Sports has 90 days to renovate and move into the mall.

Relocation of Books-A-Million was completed over the weekend. It is now handling its reading merchandise from a spot that is more than twice as large as its former location which eventually will be taken over by the largest store ever to locate in the mall – Boscov’s.

Five stores have now been relocated to make room for Boscov’s, which means renovation work to accommodate that 180,000- square-foot store can begin. However, one more store relocation will have to be accomplished to clear the area where Victoria’s Secret will move from the temporary quarters it now occupies.

Some activity outside the mall may also be developing in connection with the 36-acre site located immediately west of the mall complex. A quitclaim deed transferring the land from Ohio Valley Mall Co. of Mahoning County, (grantor) to Ohio Valley Place, LLC, (grantee) an Ohio limited liability company with a mailing address in care of the Warner Management Co. of New Jersey, has been filed in the Belmont County Recorder’s office. It is signed by Anthony M. Cafaro, Jr.,agent for the Ohio Valley Mall Co.

Accompanying the deed is an affidavit stating that the transfer by Cafaro, as president of The Marion Plaza, Inc., a general partner of the Ohio Valley Mall Co. and sole member of Ohio Valley Place, is being carried out as an exchange for an interest in the grantee. It, too, was signed by Cafaro as president of the Marion Plaza.

This piece of property fit prominently in negotiations held more than three years ago by the Belmont County commissioners and the Ohio Department of Transportation for construction of a new mall interchange and bridge over I-70 that would link the property with a 90-acre site situated between the Ohio Valley Plaza and the eastern corporate limits of St. Clairsville.

Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland said that project is very much alive and added that he and the other commissioners were scheduled to meet again very soon with ODOT officials to discuss its status. The commissioners have more than $1.9 million, including a $6.9 million earmark, set aside for possible matching funds for the project. The earmark was obtained way back when Rep. Bob Ney was in Congress.

Many times over the years I have taken exception and been a bit critical of the poor turnouts of people for brief ceremonies held to honor the armed forces veterans who gave their lives in defense of this country as well as those still living with memories of the heartache they may have suffered in battles.

I have attended such ceremonies on the Belmont County courthouse plaza and at the Union Cemetery on Veterans Day in November, on Memorial Day in May and at any other ceremony that may have been held for a special purpose. Most of the time there were around 50 or 60 people, exclusive of St. Clairsville High School band, if it was there, in attendance.

That had to be considered a good turnout because on most occasions the ceremonies attracted just a couple dozen individuals. Even an enticement of a free lunch at American Legion Post 159 after the ceremony failed to bring out bigger crowds.

But last week’s public showing for the ceremony to officially welcome home the veterans who were fortunate to survive the Vietnam War outdid all of the others. About 200 or more people attended the ceremony in tribute to the approximately 40 or 50 local war veterans and a few others who served during the Vietnam War era.

Past Legion Commander Bob Farmer was joined by speakers St. Clairsville Mayor Bob Vincenzo, Belmont County Vommissioner Matt Coffland and Legion Adjutant Lacey Paxton Shank in recognizing the “fine turnout” to honor the Vietnam veterans.

Farmer, who emceed the ceremony sponsored by the Legion Post 159 and VFW Post 5356, took the opportunity to level a blast at a famous individual who visited Vietnam during the war and made treasonous remarks like calling the U.S. fighting forces war criminals.

His remarks got a cheer and applause from the veterans and the crowd. But the individual’s disgusting and disgraceful comments so touched Farmer that he even refused to repeat the person’s name. But everyone there knew he was referring to actress Jane Fonda.

To end the ceremony, the crowd of people paid tribute to the veterans by joining in a loud and rousing “Welcome Home.”

A citizens committee in Bellaire is going all out in its efforts to get the business community and all organizations as well as voters to support passage of a levy that would provide the funds needed to put Bellaire schools on an equal educational level with neighboring schools in the county.

For some time now the committee has been seeking contributions from businesses and organizations that would be used for a newspaper ad supporting the levy and containing the names of all donors. While the response has been good the committee is extending the deadline for such pledges until Wednesday.

“The vitality of any community is directly linked to the quality of its schools,” the committee noted. “Please consider pledging $50-$100 to have your name appear in the ad in support of our schools. If this amount is above your means, any amount you could contribute to help with other campaign costs will be greatly appreciated.”

A lively production also is being held today at the high school to promote the levy. A talent show, rally and a parade from the high school to Crescent and back at 4:30 p.m. will be held. Participants are to carry signs or decorate vehicles to support the levy. Then from 5-7 p.m. there will be free hot dogs, chips and drinks along with a talent and art show, guest speakers and a meet the team session. Pledges are to be sent to the Citizens Committee for Bellaire Schools, 340 – 34th St. , Bellaire, 43906.

This is the sixth time the levy issue has been put on the ballot. The Bellaire School District has not seen a general operating levy pass since 1976. Despite the financial problems the school has faced, it has earned an excellent rating twice in the last three years, including an excellent with distinction.

But to continue with such success, school Superintendent Tony Scott said the 8.25- mill levy must receive the support of Bellaire voters.

Susan West, committee chairman, is pleased with the response from businesses and organizations so far but said, “We would love to see more, of course, as we feel it’s important to generate support for this levy by a show of solidarity. We are also seeing a strong commitment from many of our parents.”

Four men who claimed Martins Ferry as their home before going on to gain prominence in their chosen lifetime careers are being honored today with their induction into the Martins Ferry Hall of Honor. The ceremony is being held at 2 p.m. in the Martins Ferry High School cafetorium.

Inductees include James W. Everson, prominent area banking executive and community leader; Anthony Spear, architect of the Mars Pathfinder and several other NASA projects; C. Willis Troy, an influential firefighter and public safety official who served Martins Ferry and also the State of Ohio before retiring; and the late Dr. Simon West, the city’s first physician who is being recognized for his service to others. He is buried in Walnut Grove Cemetery.

Al Molnar can be reached via email at: or by phone at (740) 695-5233.