The number of organizations that have applied for financial grants from the Belmont County Tourism Council for projects and events feel a tourism boost has taken a sizeable jump over the total for last year.
In 2012 the tourism council received 36 applications for funds under its Grants Assistance Program (GAP) but this year that number soared to 53. Last Thursday was the deadline for submitting applications for participating in this year's program. This is the 14th year the GAP has been in operation. During that time the council has doled out a total of $542,974 to the various public and private organizations.
The funding requests range from $500 to $2,500. But some of the applicants may receive as much as $3,000 because the tourism council amended the maximum amount after the applications were made available to the various organizations.
Later this month the tourism council board will meet to review the requests and use their discretion in determining the applicants whose projects or events should qualify for the maximum amount. Then by the end of this month the grants will be awarded.
Last year the council approved grants totaling $61,000 for the 36 organizations that applied for funding. That did not include separate grants of $5,000 each to the five museums in the county.
Eugene "Doc" Householder noted that some of last year's applicants failed to submit receipts to the tourism council reflecting how the money awarded them was spent. Those organizations will not qualify for grants this year. "We must have receipts showing how the grant money is spent," Householder said.
The tourism council's GAP program has shown tremendous growth since its inception in 2000. That first year it approved grants totaling $10,000, the maximum amount at that time. The amount available increased the following year to $20,00 and continued on the upswing until it reached the $70,000 figure last year. This year's amount will be determined following the board's review of the applications later this month.
No date has yet been set for distribution of this year's grants but it will be before the end of March.
Some big things are quietly happening in Belmont County. And they're all involved with the rapidly expanding Marcellus and Utica shale developments in the county. Within the next few weeks will come some announcements of developments that will greatly boost the economy of the county and pave the way for its No. 1 goal - jobs. Individuals involved in meetings and negotiations that would lead to expansion of business in the county are staying tight-lipped about what the future holds.
As one individual involved who chose to remain unidentified commented, "These are exciting times in Belmont County."
Parking around the Belmont County courthouse and in the downtown area of St. Clairsville continues to be a big concern for county, city and business officials. The new parking lot behind the courthouse has not relieved the parking problem.
Because the new lot is being used by people other than courthouse employees, parking permits are being issued to those employees. Signs have been posted warning motorists the two lots are permit parking only and others will be towed.
In an effort to educate motorists on the availability of parking spaces in the downtown area, Belmont County commissioner Matt Coffland has prepared a leaflet containing a map of downtown St. Clairsville that outlines and pinpoints public parking places. He plans to have it printed and made available to the public this week.
An almost unbelievable and strangely humorous set of circumstances enveloped my eldest son, Dave, on his birthday on Feb. 26.
Dave's day started out as a routine one for him as president of National Register USA, located on the fifth floor of an office building on the outskirts of Columbus. Strolling in the hallway on that day was a man dressed as a chicken in Buckeye garb who approached another man with a personal question.
"I'm looking for Dave who is having a birthday today," the chicken man told him. And when the unidentified man asked who sent him, the chicken man replied "Dave's brothers and sisters." Somewhat taken aback, the unidentified man replied, "Well I'm Dave and it's my birthday. I can't believe my goofy brothers and sisters would do this."
With that the man escorted the chicken man into his office where he performed the chicken dance for his office staff. Then came the shocker. When chicken man handed the man the birthday card, he commented incredulously "these are not the names of my brothers and sisters." At that point the stunned chicken man was probably thinking, "right building, right floor, wrong Dave."
The office staff cracked up but then joined the chicken man in search of the other birthday celebrant. That's when they found my son, Dave, and the chicken man had to repeat his performance and Dave had to do the chicken dance in front of his staff. The whole episode turned into a rather hilarious day for two office staffs.
It wasn't until later, however, that Dave found out the full story of the case of mistaken identity involving his birthday. As he later was walking in the hallway outside his office, a man confronted him and asked, "Is your name Dave and is this your birthday?"
Dave was a bit stunned. "I thought this a rather odd question," Dave admitted. But after answering yes he learned of the confusing but comical twist that took place on his and the other man's birthdays. Dave told him it was his 60th and the other man said it was his 50th.
That left the two Daves, their office staffs and the chicken man wondering what the odds were of such an outstanding mix up occurring. Dave's siblings - four brothers and three sisters - had arranged the chicken dance routine. They were ecstatic when they heard about the excitement it caused.
I was shocked too, when I learned about it but realized that if there is any possibility of stumbling onto such an astounding situation, my fun-loving children would find it.
In an email to his brothers and sisters to inform them of the unbelievable situation that developed from their stunt, Dave wrote, "So sibs, you got a two-fer and brought levity to two birthday Daves and two offices today. And now, as Paul Harvey would say, you know the rest of the story."
Two historic stone arch bridges located on the old National Road are on Belmont County Engineer Fred Bennett's "to-do" list for this year's construction season which should be getting into full swing in about a month. He said plans for rehabilitation of the two bridges have almost been completed.
One is located on county highway 40-B in Lloydsville and the other on Union Township Road 814 just east of Morristown.
Bennett said the estimated construction cost is about $1 million with federal enhancement funds footing 80 percent of the cost and local funds 20 percent. Bids and contracts for the projects are expected in late spring.
Next weekend my body will finally get in tune with the time. Ever since last November when the switch was made from Daylight Savings Time to Eastern Standard Time, my body has rebelled against the change. My hour for getting up in the morning and for going to bed at night has been to DST. That's probably true because DST lasts eight months of the year compared to just four months EST. But the biggest advantage for "fast time" is that it provides an additional hour of daylight in the evenings - most appreciated by gardeners, golfers and everyone who enjoys being in the outdoors.
Al Molnar can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at: 740 695-5233.