Just four months after the Belmont County Department of Jobs and Family Services took over administration of the county's senior citizens program, a snag has developed which has forced the county commissioners to terminate the contract with Bellaire Community Hospital for preparation of meals.
However, officials claim the termination was not because the meals were not nutritious or plentiful. It was over the restrictions placed on the preparation and delivery of meals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"There are certain rules and regulations the USDA has over how the meals program was being operated," explained county commission president Chuck Probst. "They have certain restrictions that we have to follow." He pointed out a basic point of the USDA rules is that the meals program was being conducted by two separate entities.
"The meals were being prepared by the hospital but they were being delivered by drivers employed by the senior services program," Probst offered. That, he added, is contrary to USDA rules.
"Then, too," Probst added, "there were some meals that senior citizens had become accustomed to receiving that were not allowed to be delivered." The problems revolved over fish dinners as well as salads and other meals - restrictions the county officials apparently were not aware of when the operation of the senior citizens program was turned over to the DJFS on Oct. 1.
As a result of the termination of the contract on Jan. 27, senior citizens, some of whom were terminated when the changeover to the DJFS occurred in October, will find themselves back in a kitchen preparing the meals for the approximately 700 elderly individuals being served under the meals program.
It also means that the kitchen in the Oak View building that was vacated and closed after Oct. 1 will once again be in operation. "The kitchen is still intact so it won't take much to get it back in operation," Probst noted. "We've also done some rearrangements of personnel to get a kitchen staff lined up."
That was partially accomplished at last week's meeting when the commissioners adopted resolutions authorizing the employment of three intermittent workers for the BCDJFS/senior services unit, the hiring of one worker for the program and also changing the employment status from part-time to full-time for another senior services employee.
Funds to restore the kitchen at the Oak View building will come from the money saved during the time the meals were being prepared at the hospital. Probst pointed out the individuals meals were costing $3.50 to prepare while when they were previously being prepared at the Oak View center the cost was $7.10 for preparation and delivery.
Despite the setback over the meals, Probst noted, the senior citizens program will still be operated by the county commissioners at a savings over what it was costing under the direction of the Belmont Sernior Services.
"At our meeting last week, we appropriated $2,188,600 for operation of the program this year," Probst pointed out. That, he added, is well under the nearly $3 million budget that the BSS had offered when the decision was made to take over the program.
It didn't take long for the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the executive director.
Jennifer Woollard of Bethesda, but soon to be of St. Clairsville, moved from one executive position with the chamber to another. At the end of last month she completed her second year as chamber president, the only person to serve two consecutive terms.
And when Amy Aspenwall decided to depart as executive director, Woollard applied and was obviously accepted based on her record with the chamber. Woollard has been a chamber member for eight years, six of them as a member of the board of directors. She was employed by and represented Steele Insurance Associates Inc. on the chamber.
The mother of two daughters, Woodllard said when the executive director's position became available, "I felt it was an excellent opportunity for me" and she has already set in motion a plan to assist not only the chamber members but all businesses in the county.
She has scheduled a one-day educational seminar to help area businesses prepare to do business with oil and gas drilling companies in partnership with Shale Directories.com, an internet operation. She noted the seminar will give local businesses the opportunity "to hear from individuals who have experienced the (oil/gas) industry first-hard to learn what it takes to be successful in this once in a lifetime economic opportunity."
The seminar is scheduled for Wednesday noon, March 28 in the banquet room at Undo's Restaurant in St. Clairsville.
Sooner or later it has to happen ... the old, dilapidated Bellaire Bridge will be gone. It has taken many years to get to the demolition stage but it looks like sometime in 2012 it will be gone.
But it won't be forgotten.
While some people will be searching for pieces of the bridge to retain as a keepsake, there are those who would just like to have a picture of the old span between Benwood and Bellaire. Patty Narrish of Mozart Estates in Wheeling is one of them.
She recently shared her interest with me. "What I would really like is a picture, pencil drawing, print, something to frame to add to my collection of old Wheeling memorabilia. This is a lot harder than it sounds," she declared, adding that a trip to the library was unsuccessful, although the employees tried to be helpful.
"With all the hoopla about the bridge," Narrish noted, "I can't believe there is not a publicly-accessible photo or some kind of keepsake that the city of Bellaire has made available for purchase."
On the day she visited the Bellaire Library, she said "There was a Chamber of Commerce luncheon that day. If I had known earlier I would have made this plea in person at the luncheon ... uninvited." She's hoping some archivist or historian comes up with some type of memento "before the bridge is literally blown to smithereens."
From childhood the bridge has been a part of her life. "I grew up in Benwood, my father traveled back and forth across the bridge daily as he worked for North American Coal in Powhatan. Some of my fondest memories as a child are of that bridge and the ticket takers who exchanged tickets (or pretended to) for the trip across the river."
Photos would have had to be taken prior to 1990 to show the entire bridge, including the access ramp into Bellaire and the highway link in Benwood at the opposite end. Both of those connections were eliminated in the '90s.
Although an official announcement is expected later this month on the surgical center construction project in Bridgeport that was referred to in this column last Sunday, I've been informed that the Chiron Partners LLC firm mentioned at that time is an Ohio-based corporation, according to a spokesperson for the proposed surgical facility. My information that the firm had offices in New York and Moscow, Russia was obtained from the firm's Internet web site.
Election of a member to the Belmont County Board of Elections will be conducted during a meeting of the Belmont County Democrat Central Committee meeting on Monday. The four-year term of board member Carl Lehman has expired and he will be a candidate for re-election at the meeting.
Party chairman Ed Good said candidates seeking office in the March primary election will also be heard at the meeting at 7 p.m. in the community room at the Ohio Valley Mall. Good also called attention to the nonperishable food drive on Monday from 10 a.m.to noon in front of the courthouse. He added, "This is a part of the nationwide food drive on Martin Luther King day."
The rather mild weather and sunshine that prevailed for several days prior to the arrival of the frigid temperatures and snow played tricks on my daffodils. With that spring-like weather they started popping up out of the ground.
Al Molnar can be reached via email at: email@example.com.