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CFFD Fire Chief’s Position Attracts Nationwide Attention

November 12, 2011
By Al Molnar , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

They came as far away as Texas seeking a position in St. Clairsville but the applicants were not looking at oil and gas exploration as are many Texans who have relocated to Belmont County for that purpose.

This particular Texan, as well as others from distant places, wanted to become fire chief of the Cumberland Trail Fire District (CTFD) in St. Clairsville, a position that must be filled by the first day of the new year of 2012 when the retirement of Greg Reline as the chief becomes effective.

All told, a total of 13 firefighters have applied for the fire chief's position. Besides Texas, the applicants have come from all over the Ohio, including two from St. Clairsville and three others from this immediate Ohio Valley area.

The list of 13 applicants has been narrowed to five who have taken the first step toward getting that position. A special committee from the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association came to St. Clairsville on Saturday to conduct interviews with the five eligible candidates. "The fire chief association has an education committee and all they do is interview candidates for various service positions around the state," explained Reline.

Qualifying for the interviews Saturday were: Kenneth L. Saffel of St. Clalirsville, who has served as the assistant fire chief of CTFD since 1995; Robert Bates of Groveport, Ohio, a fire chief since 2000; Thomas J. Cramer of Independence, Ohio, a lieutenant, emergency medical technician and paramedic with the Middleburg Heights FD since 1987; Mark A. Kidd of Nashport, Ohio, a captain and shift supervisor from the Franklin Township FD in Columbus; and Ronald N. Luttrell of Lima, Ohio, firefighter and paramedic with the Shawnee Township FD in Lima.

When the fire chief association completed its interview process, Reline said they took all the information they had compiled from the applicants and took it to Columbus to study, go over it thoroughly and then send their recommendation back to the Belmont County Fire Board.

That board, consisting of Tom Costine, the Richland Township representative; Frank Sabatino, the city of St. Clairsville representative; and Ed Gorence and Bruce Henderson, the at-large board members; were responsible for narrowing the field of 13 applicants down to five.

"The fire board meets once a month," Costine pointed out, "and our next meeting is set for Nov. 22. Hopefully we'll have their recommendation for the fire chief position by that time. We'll go over the information they send us and come up with a decision." The final decision rests with the board and if it isn't finalized at the Nov. 22 meeting, Costine said a special meeting will be held the following week to make the decision.

The eight other candidates who had applied for the fire chief's position include Mark E. Sommers of St. Clairsville, a lieutenant with the CTFD; Joe Plumlee, a fire chief in Sunnyvale, Texas; Robert C. Fellows of Galloway, Ohio; Allan G. Ketzell of Brookside; Mark A. Knuth of Wheeling; Douglas C. Stewart of Richwood, Ohio; Christopher K. Switala of Pittsburgh; Robert L. Wirtz of Yorkville.

For weeks now there has been feverish activity getting things in place to provide the most colorful and festive welcome for the season most cherished by children as well as many adults and most definitely by the retail industry - Christmas.

City crews in St. Clairsville spent a good bit of their time the past week hoisting wreaths on poles throughout the downtown area, an activity that also has taken place in other communities throughout the county. And at the Ohio Valley Mall the seasonal decorations were in place throughout the shopping center and a family fun program was held last week in preparation for the arrival on Saturday of Santa Claus.

The jolly gent symbol of the Christmas season will make an earlier debut in St. Clairsville on Thursday, during the "Horizon Telcom Holidays on the Hilltop Parade and Tree Lighting," sponsored by the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce and Horizon Telcom. The tree lighting ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. and the parade will follow at 6:30 p.m.

The parade will pay tribute to a longtime member of the St. Clairsville business community, Jack Halloran, who brought Home Pizza to the city in 1968 and since then has made numerous contributions to the beautification and development of the city. Halloran will serve as the parade grand marshal.

A 40-foot high blue spruce tree contributed by William Harr of 115 East Lawn, will glow through the season. Don Smithberger, head of the city's electrical department, noted, "we'll put the tree up on Monday and have it decorated on Tuesday and Wednesday." During Thursday's festivities, Mayor Bob Vincenzo will throw the switch to light up the tree which will remain lighted into the new year.

At the mall, Santa Claus will arrive Saturday at 11 a.m. Children attending the event are advised they can wear pajamas to lounge in Macy's Court where Santa will be seated in an easy chair situated between three gaily decorated Christmas trees to read "The Polar Express." Afterwards Santa will go to the mall's main court and be available for photos.

If the Belmont County Board of Elections does not give second thoughts to ever again giving me an assignment as a poll worker on an election day, I would not blame them a bit.

This past election I proved to be a thorn in the side of Denise Robinson, who had her hands full trying to get hundreds of local residents to fill the positions required for manning the county's polling booths at 69 precincts.

After attending a poll workers class, I was assigned as a precinct judge. Five days prior to the general election I was notified of a problem with my one and only kidney and my concerned nephrologist, Dr. Marne Marker, immediately prescribed medication which in one day eased the problem.

So I notified Denise Robinson the next day I'd be able to handle the poll job. She seemed relieved because up to that point she was encountering some difficulty finding people to fill the polling position.

Then on election-eve I developed another problem, not kidney related, but very painful. I reported to the election precinct at 5:30 a.m. as scheduled - but only to inform the other poll workers of my ailment.

From the precinct I called Denise Robinson, who was at the election board just as early, to inform her of my inability to handle the job. When I told her I was sick, she didn't hesitate with a quick concerned answer: "Go home."

That particular ailment was greatly relieved within 48 hours, which is why I'm able to sit at my computer to record what happened and to offer my apology to Robinson and the elections board for being such a pain and creating them additional problems during their very busy period.

Just about anything an individual wants, whether food, merchandise or otherwise, it'll likely be available at a Wal-Mart store. Now they're going to offer a new service - health care.

A vacant outlet at the front of the supercenter in the Ohio Valley Plaza has been marked and getting ready to be used by East Ohio Regional Hospital to provide health services. It is identified as: "The Clinic. EORH/OVMC."

Dean Holtsclaw, manager of the plaza store, could not elaborate on just what will be offered at the new center. "What's going in there is strictly up to East Ohio Regional Hospital and the Ohio Valley Medical Center. They have leased the space," Holtsclaw explained. But he added, "It's just adding to the convenience of having a one-stop shop for customers."

Get your food items ready to help "Pack the Truck" for the St. Clairsville food pantry next weekend.

The St. Clairsville Sunrise Rotary Club, in conjunction with area grocery stores and Kathy Osovich from Harvey Goodman Realtors, are preparing for the annual food drive on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to aid the pantry, which is sponsored by the St. Clairsville Council of Churches.

The truck on Friday will be at Wal-Mart from 4-9 p.m.; on Saturday at Kroger from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at Sam's Club from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and on Sunday at Riesbeck's from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Al Molnar can be reached via email at: amole0420@aol.com.

 
 

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