Although specific businesses were not mentioned, Anthony Cafaro Jr., co-president of the Cafaro Co., owner of the Ohio Valley Mall, had some encouraging words about new businesses coming to the retail center in the not too distant future.
He confirmed that active negotiations are ongoing with a wide range of business in hopes of attracting them to the mall. And Cafaro was confident the results of those negotiations should soon be evident.
I caught up with him during a brief break in the colorful pageantry being staged last weekend to commemorate the completion of a multi-million renovation of the mall to ask about the future.
"In the area that was recently cleared we're talking to restaurants, hotels and other businesses about locating there," Cafaro stated. He was referring to the area where the former Rax Restaurant building was razed leaving a large undeveloped area. But he declined to identify any of businesses they are dealing with.
As another member of the Cafaro staff that attended the reopening celebration pointed out, "they don't give out the name of a prospective business until they have their signature on a contract." And that exact explanation has been repeated to me a hundred times or more by George Diab, manager of the mall.
Cafaro did shed light on the identity of one business they are dealing with. When I asked him about the Boscov department store that was rumored a year ago to be possibly locating here, he replied, "It's one of the potentials we're looking to fill the vacancy left by JCPenney. There are many more."
Boscov's was started with one store in Reading, Pa. in 1911, and has expanded now to 40 stores - 24 of them in Pennsylvania and the others in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware. If a store is established at the mall, it would be the first one in Ohio.
Before concluding the main reopening ceremony, Cafaro presented two community service organization heads with $5,000 checks each for their work. Recipients of the check were Major Louis Patrick of the Salvation Army in Bellaire and Gary Obloy, director of the Belmont County Community Action Commission.
Mall merchants enjoyed a busy sales weekend as a result of the lavish reopening ceremony. There were 200 shoppers who received $15 gift certificates and Candi Noble-Greathouse, marketing director, said "hundreds of shoppers" took advantage of getting $25 in free merchandise with the expenditure of $75.
Several other businesses inside the mall did some remodeling of their own while the renovation was underway. Garfield's Restaurant & Pub was closed for about two weeks while it was undergoing some changes. "We tripled the size of our bar," manager Matt Kline declared. "We now have space for 32 instead of just seven. And we added five television sets." Some other decorative changes were made but Kline said the seating capacity remained about the same.
Spencer's gift outlet relocated the entire store. It moved across the corridor to a much larger location. A new store, "Threading Brows Spa" opened and the Gold Buyers at the Mall moved from a kiosk in the corridor into a spacious storefront just off the Macy's court. Since the opening celebration, five new businesses have set up shop for the Christmas season. They include "Go! Games & Toys" and "Go! Calendars," the "Fun Factory" which is filled with large inflatables that children can bounce around on; the Shirt Place and a regular seasonal attraction, Hickory Farms.
Christine Palmer left the warmth and sunshine of Florida earlier this month to come back to the cold and soon to be sometimes frigid Ohio Valley, and to her home in Shadyside.
She had several excellent reasons for doing so. The first, but not necessarily the main one, was that on Nov. 7 she became a member of the Belmont County courthouse staff, assuming the duties of human resources manager, a position vacated last month by Mike Kinter.
While she enjoyed her job as human resource manager at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, she has two daughters, Braelynn, 11, and Kya, 8, who weren't too impressed with the sunshine state. "They didn't want to stay there. They wanted to be back in Shadyside to go to school and to be with their friends," Palmer explained.
So the girls went back to Shadyside to be with their father and Mom stayed on the job at the space center. But she immediately started job hunting because "my family comes first and I wanted to be back in Shadyside with my daughters."
Palmer had been at the space center just seven months, having been transferred there from the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino & Racetrack where she had been employed for over nine years. It was an internal transfer since both businesses are owned by the Delaware North Co.
It wasn't necessary to ask if she was glad to be back home. It was very obvious from hearing her tell about her experience.
About two weeks ago, Bubba Kapral, astute and popular managing editor of the Martins Ferry Times Leader, penned an article about a Life Magazine story from 50 years ago that some residents felt was anything but flattering to Martins Ferry, Bellaire and the entire Ohio Valley.
I am very familiar with the genesis of that article and the intention of the individual who "sold" the magazine on the article. The idea for it came from the late Arnold Lazarus, who back then was the city editor of the Wheeling News-Register and also a stringer for Life Magazine.
Lazarus's intention was to show how small industrial cities like Martins Ferry and Bellaire produced more than their share of tough young men who went on to college and then into the professional football ranks. The main premise Lazarus offered the magazine was that a high school graduate had the choice of either playing football or working in the steel mills.
Lazarus never mentioned it but I do not believe he accompanied the magazine writer during the week he spent in the two cities compiling his story. I do know he went to a football game in Martins Ferry with the Life reporter because I went along.
Although there were complaints about some of the material in the magazine, my recollection is there were many more rave notices about the article - many along the lines of that offered Kapral by Gene Joseph, a retired Martins Ferry educator and coach. His comment to the magazine article: "In reality, that was the way it was. You either went to school to play football in college or you went to work in the mines or the mill."
One Belmont County veteran received a surprise, special tribute during the Veterans Day ceremony held Monday at the Belmont County courthouse plaza.
John Ciesielka of Fairpoint was cited in a resolution of honor adopted by the Belmont County Commission, not only for his service to the country but also for " selfless deeds and service" performed in assisting other area veterans over the past 50 years as an active member of the American Legion.
The resolution, which was read during Monday's service by commissioner Ginny Favede, noted that after serving our country's call to duty during the Korean War era, Ciesielka "has spent countless hours serving our veterans by volunteering his time, energy and resources along with serving the American Legion for over 50 years."
In addition the resolution notes Ciesielka "assists veteran's widows and their families ... and is a liaison between the local VA office and veterans and their families. John gives of himself freely and without compensation. He epitomizes excellence in character, courage, sacrifice and patriotism as he continues in his mission to provide assistance to veterans and their families in times of need, in times of sickness and death."
Ciesielka currently serves as commander of the Belmont County Council of American Legion. He was unaware of the citation until it was read at the service. The commission adopted it on Nov. 7.
When gasoline prices started a brief decline in price in October, motorists were viewing it as an election ploy. More than once these words were uttered: As soon as the election is over the price will start going up.
Those motorists were so right. Less than a week after the election some stations hiked the price of a gallon of gasoline by five cents. But then last Wednesday, there was another hike ranging from 12 to 16 cents a gallon. That sets the lowest price at stations around the county seat at $3.599 a gallon for the lowest grade of gasoline.
Charles "Chick" Clark, formerly of Bridgeport and now a resident of the Shadyside Care Center, recorded a "first" on his 100th birthday on Saturday. To commemorate the occasion, Danny Young, president of the Lansing Sportsmen's Club, went to the center to present him with a plaque. "He is the first member of the club to reach the century mark in age," Young noted.
"We're going to hang the plaque on the wall in the club," Young added. With that, Clark will be recording another "first" since it will be the first one to be so displayed. "Clark's been a loyal member of the club," Young noted. "He's been a member since it was established."
Al Molnar can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.