Development of an RV/camper "housing" project in Morristown has gotten off to prestigious start with a verbal request for 50 spaces by the first of June from an internationally acclaimed firm with a history in oil, gas and products pipeline development.
James L. Grear, spokesman for a Belmont County group that has leased a 20-acre site opposite Doan Ford in Morristown for development of the park, said the verbal commitment came from Price Gregory, a firm with a history of developing modern pipeline construction techniques that are used worldwide.
"We've got the area staked out, we have all our permits in order and we're moving dirt to start the project," exclaimed Grear, a Warren Township trustee and one of the four member team formed as the Eastern Ohio Management Group, who recently arranged to lease the 20-acre site from Janey Doan, owner of Doan Ford.
"Price Gregory indicated to us they wanted 50 sites in June so we're working hard to do that," Grear declared. Most of the preliminary work to accomplish that request has been completed, Grear noted, including extending water and sewage lines into the area. A temporary road has been constructed into the site to handle truck traffic going to and from the area where heavy equipment is leveling the slightly sloped acreage.
In March, Janey Doan and Grear revealed plans for development of the acreage near the intersection of National Road and Ohio 149 to house recreational vehicles and campers because of the flood of new people brought into the county by the oil and gas drilling industry seeking temporary housing.
The site is being reserved exclusively for RVs and campers. There is space for 275 of them and further development beyond the first 50 spots will depend on the demand for additional sites. "We'll develop new sites as we get the demand for them," Grear noted.
It is obvious Price Gregory is coming to the county because of the Marcellus and Utica shale drilling that has spread throughout the county and the entire area.
Five museums in Belmont County have been designated as recipients of one-time grants of $5,000 each from the Belmont County Tourism Council to upgrade and improve their facilities. Such improvements must be accomplished by licensed contractors.
Tourism director Eugene "Doc" Householder noted the grant funds may be used by the institutions' officials for rebuilding or remodeling building interiors or exteriors. "In other words," Householder noted, "the funds can be used for repairing buildings, sidewalks, furnace and air conditioning units and outdoor improvements that will provide a more aesthetic appearance to the museum."
When decisions are made on what improvements are planned, Householder said museum operators must notify him by letter or in person of their plans. Projects should be completed within a year's time. "When the projects are completed, contractors' receipts must be submitted to the tourism council in order to receive the funds," Householder explained. "Our office is very closely audited by the state and receipts for these expenditures must be received. We must know exactly how the grant money is spent." Otherwise, he added, the funds cannot be issued.
"The tourism council is ready and willing to provide these funds for the museum improvements provided the stipulations are met," he said. The five museums that qualify for up to $5,000 for their building improvement projects are Belmont County Historical Museum in Barnesville, the Great Western Schoolhouse museum west of St. Clairsville, the Sedgwick Museum in Martins Ferry, the National Imperial Glass Museum in Bellaire and the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing.
Reading Executive Editor Mike Myer's column in last Sunday's News-Register about experiences he had meeting presidents and the Secret Service agents who protect them, stirred some memories for me about presidential encounters - in particular one that could never happen in this day and age.
It happened early one very warm August morning in 1948 in Washington, D.C. Getting off from work at United Press at 10 p.m., I took advantage of living alone and doing my own thing by going out with my buddy to a party that turned into a much too long session of having a good time, boozing a bit, laughing and eating. There were girls but no secret agents.
At that time my sole means of getting around the big city was by street car, bus or walking since my salary of $23.63 a week wasn't enough finance my own 4-wheel transportation. The party lasted into the wee hours and I was oblivious of the long walk facing me at 5:30 a.m. to get to the street car line for the ride home.
My stroll to the street car stop took me through a circular, grass-covered, tree-lined park known as the Ellipse - an area situated between the back of the White House and the Washington Monument.
As I trudged along the sidewalk, I could see up ahead through rather bleary eyes two men walking side by side towards me. When I got about 20 feet from them, the man on the right took a quick step in front of the other and waved his hand, directing me to move over slightly on the sidewalk so the two of them could pass.
When I got right next to the man for whom the path was cleared, I opened my drooping eyes and was shocked to recognize President Harry S. Truman. I tried to say good morning but was tongue-tied and a bit slurred. He cracked a little smile and said rather sheepishly, "good morning."
The man who stepped forward was undoubtedly a Secret Service agent who waved me to the side to make certain that with my somewhat unsteady gait I did not bump into the president.
It was a sobering encounter that had a lasting impression. Do you think such a close encounter in this day and age could happen? If the president decided to take a walk at any time of the day around or through the the Ellipse, the entire area probably would be cordoned off to make certain no other person was in or near the park at the time.
Back then, it was fairly well known among media people that a morning stroll in the park behind the White House was part of HST's daily routine at about 5:30 or 6 a.m. On this occasion he was there with just one Secret Service agent beside him. Today the security is much tighter.
But I had a second encounter with Present Truman a couple of months later. This time I was standing in the lobby of the National Press Building where the United Press offices were located. President Truman was coming for a speaking engagement at the National Press Club. As he entered the lobby, he walked over and shook hands with me as he headed for the elevator. That day I was working. The United Press office was on the 7th floor. The president was heading for the 13th floor with two Secret Service agents and his White House staff.
A big switch in offices will be taking place on the third floor of the Belmont County courthouse, which will necessitate closing the Clerk of Courts office for five days starting on Wednesday. During that period the clerk's office will be moved into the Belmont County Law Library quarters and the law library will then be moved to occupy the clerk's office space.
The switch is necessitated to give the clerk's office additional space to maintain its voluminous current records files and not have them moved to the Oak View building which would require employees to travel there on occasion for reference materials. Older records of the office already are being stored there. The offices will reopen on Monday, May 14.
From my earliest days as a freckle-faced kid in Avella, Pa. I was continually bombarded by friends and even strangers with "you look like Mickey Rooney." It was something that stuck because even today I hear that same line. I lived with it and only once can I recall that it irritated or embarrassed me.
That occurred many years ago while shopping in the Kroger Store in Martins Ferry. I was on one side of the store and a man whom I hadn't seen in a long time, was at the opposite side and in a very loud voice bellowed, 'Hiya Mickey, howya doin'? And of course all the shoppers heard it and came by to see Mickey, and they all added their "you do look like Mickey."
Well I never got a cent for looking like Mickey but some lucky lookalikes this week can pick up prize packages and trophies in a contest being held Saturday at the Ohio Valley Mall. A mother-daughter lookalike contest will be held at center court at 11 a.m. Entry forms to pre-register will be available at the customer service center through Friday. The first, second and third place winners will receive trophies and prize packages.
Al Molnar can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.