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$1 Million Creek Cleanup Starts; Men’s Store to Open at Mall

October 16, 2011
Al Molnar , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

A full size men's clothing store, complete with accessories and on premises alterations for all apparel, is the newest business development at the Ohio Valley Mall. It is scheduled to open around Dece. 15.

Actually, it is not a totally new store. Men's Wearhouse & Tux has been a fixture in a relatively small space in the mall for about five years. It is going to expand and move into a location that is approximately three times as large as its present site.

"What we're doing," explained assistant manager Chad Brown, "is we're moving into a bigger place and establishing a full size Men's Wearhouse, where our main focus will be on retailing men's clothing but still renting tuxedoes." That is just the opposite format at their present store where renting and sale of tuxedoes has been the main focus of business and the sale of men's suit is secondary.

Brown admitted there are probably many mall patrons who are unaware there are regular men's suits for sale in the little shop that more often features tuxedo sales and rentals in its display windows. "It'll be different at the new store," Brown assured. "We're going to be more focused on retail sales. We'll have about 2,000 men's suits, 1,200 pairs of shoes, a wide variety of sport coats, shirts, ties and other accessories. It's going to be a real Men's Wearhouse. But we'll still have tuxedoes for rental and sale."

At the present time there are just four employees with Ryan Juriga, who was out of town at the time I talked to Brown, serving as manager. In the new store, there will be additional employees but Brown was not certain how many. But he interjected, "We already have hired one employee - a tailor. At the new store we will have complete on premises alterations for suits and jackets."

Opening of the new store is anticipated around Dec. 15. Between now and then the present MW store and the Velocity sports wear store will be making and carrying out moving plans. Velocity has for a couple of weeks had signs proclaiming a moving sale. It will be relocated to the space formerly occupied by the Foot Locker shoe store.

Mall manager George Diab confirmed the business transaction, but declined to elaborate on other major changes anticipated within the mall complex. He did reveal that the reconstruction of the new hhgregg store on the mall perimeter is moving at a fast pace and the store is expected to open for business around Nov. 18.

A year-long project funded by a $1 million federal grant to clean up the creeks that were battered to flood stage by heavy rains during April and May that resulted in federal and state disaster declarations, has been launched in Belmont County.

Two weeks ago the first of two groups of 25 men started the project of removing fallen trees, branches, tires, junked cars and car parts and other types of litter that formed dams at strategic spots in the streams during that period, causing massive flooding and millions of dollars damage to the county's infrastructure.

Twenty-five men who fit into the category of income eligible county residents who rank among the long term unemployed, are laid off from a job, are drawing unemployment compensation, who may have lost a job as a result of the flood or some similar status, make up the first clean-up crew selected from among 200 persons who applied at the Belmont County Connections office for the temporary jobs.

"These 25 men will work 1,040 hours or approximately six months," explained Michael Schlanz, director of the Connections office. "Then they'll be replaced by a second crew of 25 men who will work until the program is concluded." The men work seven hours a day and draw a salary of $10 an hour.

A $1,005,000 grant was secured by the Belmont County Department of Jobs & Family Services from the Department of Labor specifically for the creek cleanup. DJFS director Dwayne Pielech noted that since the program is divided into two six-months segments, "We'll be screening men sometime during the winter months to get the additional employees for the second half." All of the men go through extensive screening that includes drug-testing before they are eligible for the program.

Richard Vannelle of Bellaire is the coordinator of the project and during the first two weeks the work crew's cleanup efforts were centered in the Bridgeport, Brookside and Neffs areas. Pielech said most of the creek work is concentrated in townships in the eastern part of Belmont County since that is where the floods did the most damage to bridges, tore up roads and caused numerous earth slips on county roads. Most of the work is centered in the Colerain, Mead, Pease, Pultney, Richland and Smith townships.

The one-year program is schedule to end in June 2012 but the state has petitioned the federal government to extend the deadline to September 2012.

With the project to renovate the former sheriff's residence at the century-old Belmont County jail expected to be put up for bids in the very near future, the Belmont County Tourism Council presented county officials with a $50,000 check last week as the first of three such payments to provide the matching funds for a $679,000 enhancement grant received from the Ohio Department of Transportation to complete the restoration.

Commisioner Ginny Favede, who has been at the forefront in coordinating the project, accepted the check and confirmed the project is ready to go to contractors' bids. She also noted there has been one addition to the architect's final plans for restoring the facility. The sizeable space between the residence and the cellblock that served as the jail kitchen will be converted into a conference room for the tourism council and also used as a public community meeting room since it will have a separate outside entrance.

"I'm very excited about this project," Favede exclaimed. She added that the project may be completed by the end of the year despite earlier indications the completion date may have to be extended into early spring.

The Belmont County Agriculture Society, which recently completed producing a successful county fair, is hopeful of scoring another hit with its after dark, spooky tour of the new fairgrounds with its frightful presentation of "Scare at the Fair."

Continuing for the two successive weekends up to Halloween, the "Scare at the Fair" walking tour will take participants through some of the buildings where they're sure to encounter ghosts, goblins and other scary costumed creatures.

The spooky tour will be held each Friday and Saturday from 7:30-11 p.m. or "until we get everybody through the buildings," explained society vice president Malissa Campbell, who was part of a committee that spent many hours conjuring up ghostly schemes to scare, startle and excite those taking the tour. A hayride will also be included in the activities.

Campbell said a "kids friendly activity" is also planned for the younger children who may get too frightened doing the approximately 20-minute walking tour. They'll be decorating pumpkins and participating in a hay maze among other activities.

My garden produced its final two red tomatoes and a whole bunch of green ones last week but that doesn't signal its death knell. There are still six sweet pepper plants that have more than enough growth on them to provide a couple of stuffed pepper dinners. They'll be picked early this week before a surprise frost comes along to spoil one of my favorite dinners.

There were two big surprises to my garden this year. It produced three cantaloupes and one butternut squash and I didn't plant any of them. They were what many call "volunteers."

Al Molnar can be reached via email at:

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