Two major business developments that will inject a much needed boost to Belmont County's economic growth have been finalized and may be serving the Ohio Valley area before the year-end holidays.
One involves the construction of a professional indoor sports complex on U.S. 40 about a mile west of St. Clairsville and the other a publicly owned and operated appliance and electronics retail center in a building located on the Ohio Valley Mall complex.
A 20,000 square-foot building will be constructed on three acres of land situated behind the Derosa-Presuitti dentistry office at 47301 National Road West that will serve as a sports complex for men interested in training for involvement in virtually any type of sport.
When Michael Derosa and Ronald Presutti relocated their dentist office from downtown St. Clairsville into a newly constructed building on National Road West, they also acquired additional acreage behind their business to establish a development site in hopes of attracting other business. It was given the identity of Tinmar Development area..
The two noted they were contacted by a Kentucky man, Gerald Pintarich, who told them he was interested in acquiring three acres of the land to construct a building with 20,000 square feet of space and to equip it as a training center for baseball, football, tennis and other sports. He said there would be indoor soccer, batting cages and other sports equipment.
The building will be situated between National Road and Interstate 70 - closer to the interstate highway but accessible only from National Road. There were some building setback issues involving how many feet the building entrance would be from the street. That was resolved two weeks ago during a meeting between the county commissioners and county engineer.
At the time the two closed the deal for the acreage, Pintarich informed them he would be relocating from Kentucky and building a home in the Huber Heights area of Cleveland.
As for the new retail operation, Ohio Valley Mall officials have confirmed that "hhgregg, Inc.," a nationwide retailer in home appliances and electronics, will occupy a building on the mall ring road that had previously been the location of a TJMaxx store. The building is located adjacent to the CVS Pharmacy.
On Labor Day the first work crew arrived at the building and began demolition of the interior. By midweek the entire interior of the structure had been gutted and the debris hauled away by the truck loads in preparation for rebuilding the 33,000 square foot structure. Extensive exterior improvements appear to be included in the remodeling plans.
Founded in 1955 in Indianapolis, the Gregg firm has shown tremendous growth. It has 171 stores in 16 Midwestern states with over 3,100 employees. In 2010 it began occupying many stores that had been vacated by Circuit City when it went out of business. In June the company announced it would be opening four stores in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area and that it was planning to open 14 new stores in the Chicago area as well.
Although no target opening date has been set for the store, mall manager George Diab said the remodeling project should be completed and the store opened for business in time for the year-end holiday shopping period.
Inside the mall, a seasonal store the "Spirit," has opened with virtually every type of Halloween costume and other paraphernalia in the 16,000 square-foot outlet to make the October observance as scary, funny or eye-appealing as possible. A huge sign in a display window notes it is hiring employees.
Many solemn observances are being held today and everyone will be recalling where they were and what they were doing on this date 10 years ago when they first heard of the two airplanes that rammed into New York's World Trade Center in a terrorist attack that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Remembering the day and what transpired is easy for my son, Mark, who was on a business trip to New York that day and was in an airplane over the city at the exact time the twin towers were engulfed in flames and heavy black smoke.
His personal "nightmare" really started when he got on the ground and tried to get to his hotel, to his meeting and ultimately to get out of the city and back home. He walked all over New York because there were no taxis or other means of transportation available. Masses of people jammed the streets. After about 12 hours of trying every means of transportation to get out of the city, he finally managed to get out on an Amtrak train and then switch to other transportation to get back to Wheeling by midnight.
In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the three separate terrorists attacks, the American Legion Post 159 in St. Clairsville will holding a candlelight vigil today at 8 p.m. in the post home at 100 Legion Road.
Former St. Clairsville-Richland City School District Superintendent Francis William Zanders will be returning for service to the district he left three years ago - not in an administrative capacity as in the past but as a member of the board of education. As a last minute, unopposed write-in candidate, he needs only 1 vote to be assured of being elected.
Zanders, who retired from his position as principal of Bishop Rosecrans High School in Zanesville in January, said he noticed when the deadline for candidates to file for the board of education was at hand, there was a vacancy. No one had filed to fill the vacant board seat. "So at the last minute," Zanders declared, "I went down to the board of elections and signed in my name."
He feels with the seven years he had served as the district superintendent, coupled with the fact that over the years he has served educational positions as superintendent, principal, counselor, and teacher, "that's valuable experience to offer in this position. When I left Rosecrans, I had completed 46 years in education."
Before leaving Rosecrans in January, Zanders said he spent considerable time training a replacement because of his intention to retire. "I retired in mid-January. I had been training one individual to take over when I left." One key reason for leaving was the tedious, long drive he had to make each school day. "The drive to Zanesville every day was getting to be a drag." He said it was especially difficult during the winter months.
During his nearly five decades in schools, Zanders admits, "I've seen a lot of changes but I have really enjoyed the education field." He added that being involved with the board of education "will keep me involved in education. It'll be a rewarding experience" and one to which he feels he has much to offer.
He has served in some capacity with every school district in Belmont County except one. "I missed Union Local," he chuckled. "I did get an offer from them but I decided instead to stay in Dover for another two years."
Some people, like kindly Eileen Wise of Belmont, put heart and soul into events like the Belmont County Fair, as well as a lot of cash. When she was recognized at the fair's opening last week for her financial contribution to development of the fair, the $75,000 exceeded the original amount of $50,000 she had given for construction of the Horticulture and Domestic Arts building.
Her original contribution came from the insurance money she received upon the death of her husband, William Wise, who had work for the fair for 50 years. At that time she explained "That's what he would have wanted me to do."
When I asked her about the additional $25,000 contribution, she explained, "Well they (the fair) needed some more money for the building so I took what was left of the insurance money and scraped together some of my savings and gave them $25,000 more."
When I suggested that dipping into her savings must have left her broke, her calm, quiet reply was, "Just about. I just felt it was the right thing to do."
Discovered a new varmint in my garden. I thought squirrels survived only on nuts. But this gray squirrel with a large bushy tail hopped into my garden, sat straight up then reached for one of the green tomatoes. But the rattling of my makeshift fence frightened him off - but not too far as he stopped under the black walnut tree where some nuts had fallen.
Al Molnar can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.