It didn't take long for voters in Belmont County to take advantage of the opportunity to cast ballots in person for the Nov. 6 general election.
On the first day on Tuesday, 75 voters showed up at the board of elections office in St. Claisville to vote in person and on the second day that number was nearly doubled as 70 more showed up to raise the overall total for the two days to 145.
Numerous favorable comments about the early voting were passed along by some of the first responders, including one voter who was somewhat overwhelmed with how carefully and efficiently the four ladies working the special voting place took care of everything. The voter was very appreciative that the workers "were very friendly, cooperative and knowledgeable about the voting procedures. I was in and out of there in no time. That's the way to vote."
Inside the main office there was feverish activity as workers prepared for the presidential election. Even elections board president Frankie Lee Carnes was there lending a helping hand. She had one explanation for some of the hustling activity in the office: "We have already sent out 9,639 absentee ballots."
"I'm retiring for the second time. This time it is for real."
Those words were uttered by Mike Kinter moments after he submitted his letter of resignation as Belmont County Human Resources manager and it was accepted by the county commissioners.
That ended a 42-year career that took Kinter from a teacher's job at Bellaire High School to an underground mining and also an office job at the Powhatan No. 1 mine, from there to the Belmont County Department of Jobs and Family Services and finally to the office of the Belmont County commissioners.
Although he was not ready to leave the DJFS four years ago, he received a buyout offer that convinced him to retire. "I was 60 years old and Duane Pielech (DJFS director) offered me a buyout. So I took it," Kinter declared.
"For four months the retirement felt good. Then (commissioners) Mark Thomas and Gordie Longshaw took me out to dinner one day and talked me into taking the human resources job for the county." He explained the job was very similar to what he was doing with the DJFS but his work was more widespread - providing help to all the governmental departments in the county and not just those within the DJFS.
His first thought about retirement was he'd probably be spending "more time with the grand kids." What plans he has after that are a complete departure from how he has spent the past 42 years. "I love bicycles. I have six of them, including a tandem bike for me and my wife. They'll get a lot more use now."
He'll be using his hands in a much different manner than on a computer as has been the case in most of his jobs. "I've got a woodworking shop in the basement and I haven't made anything out of wood in a long time." But his wife, Linda, has some ideas about how he'll be using his free time. "All the housework will have to be done and all the meals will be cooked. He's the only one in the house that has been doing the cooking," she confided.
Those duties will fall on him because she will remain on her job as a Medicaid supervisor at the DJFS. "I'm continuing to work," she chuckled, "because he said only one of us can retire." She has been with the DJFS for 24 years and is looking forward to possibly retiring in December of next year.
Kinter quite possibly could have made his coal mining job a permanent one had it not been for a management change. "When I started, I worked underground for two years. After that I was assigned to the office doing workers compensation and insurance work. But then Consol bought the Quarto Mine and I knew I'd have to go underground again."
As soon as the ownership change was made, Kinter found out that the coal company intended making him a face boss. "The face boss spent more time underground than the regular miners. I did not want to go back underground."
So after 11 years at the Powhatan Mine. he quit. "I worked for Consol exactly one day."
Kinter is ready for his retirement duties, especially the cooking. "I love to cook and have been doing it for years. My wife likes that. I make a sausage and pasta dish that she really loves." And he is looking forward to the day his wife finally retires. With a soft chuckle he mused, "Maybe then I'll teach her how to cook."
Two western Belmont County farms that have been productive for centuries are on the viewing schedule today for the 40th annual Belmont County Rubberneck Tour, along with a Bethesda area memorial business that sports a vintage service station.
The No. 1 stop on the tour is the 108-acre farm of T.J. and Tammy Jefferis on the outskirts of Barnesville, where earlier this year construction was completed on a spacious 5,500-square-foot home. Also completed recently was a new modern barn facility from where the family has conducted its cattle business for two decades. Jefferis is a well known business developer and is currently involved in several projects that will bring numerous job opportunities to the Barnesville area.
Horses and cattle are raised at the 110-acre farm of Brooke and Zack Passmore near Barnesville. The tour members will also have an opportunity to see a collection of old trucks and some old farm equipment, including some that are horse drawn.
The third stop will be at the memorial business on Ohio 147, just outside of Bethesda, operated by Joel Braido. In addition to seeing a hand etched memorial created by artist Keith Moore, visitors can take a trip back into the good old days while touring Braido's re-created Sinclair Station where vintage gas pumps, signs, and classic cars will be on display.
The drive-it-yourself tour will be held from 12:30-5 p.m. and restroom facilities will be available at each of the stops.
A large, heavy wire enclosure has been erected near the Ohio Valley Mall complex building where the Rural King supply store will open for business before the end of October. It measures 75 by 200 feet and assistant store manager Evan Schimmel said that is where the store's larger merchandise like farm equipment will be displayed.
Schimmel said additional staff for the store is still being sought. "We have openings for 20 or 30 additional employees," Schimmel noted. Store manager Larry Pickett said the company is aiming for a staff of about 60 employees. He noted present plans call for a grand opening on Oct. 30 and possibly a soft opening on Oct. 15. He said the dates are tentative and could possibly change.
I have to believe my garden this year was jinxed, especially as far as the tomatoes are concerned. The tomato plants I pulled out two weeks ago, all except one, a volunteer that came out on its own and was continually fed all summer from water produced from the air conditioner, which was working overtime because of the heat.
The plant was the hardiest one in the garden, with a stalk about an inch thick. Since it had more than 15 large Roma type tomatoes that were near to being ripe, I did not destroy it. But some lowly varmint was not so considerate. It wasn't a deer because none of the healthy green leaves were chewed on. Only the green tomatoes were eaten - every one of them. So I figure I have a menace besides deer - a hungry groundhog or raccoon. Fortunately there were no feathers to go along with all the melted tar in which cars were skidding and sliding on county road 10 between Flushing and Lafferty 10 days ago. The shoot and chip system has been used for many years to improve county roads without ever an incident such as the mess that occurred there.
The road contractor, Parnell & Associates, and Belmont County Engineer Fred Bennett rushed five trucks to the scene and spread 500 tons of stone on the road to keep the fresh tar in place. Bennett theorized a chemical reaction apparently triggered by the heavy rain that came immediately after the shoot and chip process was completed, was what caused the tar to come loose and coat the underside of cars and the slippery conditions.
Bellaire patrolman J.J. Watson, Belmont County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Allar, and Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk, deserve county-wide plaudits and a gold star for their work in tracking down the two men who have been charged with the brutal murder and robbery of a 92-year-old Bellaire woman.
People in Bellaire, in the county and surrounding area were thrown into shock on June 30 when news circulated about Lydia Ashworth being found dead in her West Bellaire home, a victim of the heinous crime. Allar coordinated the long investigation that involved many other area police agencies.
Al Molnar can be reached via email at: email@example.com.