Rarely has there been a meeting in the past few months when someone brought up or complained to the Belmont County commissioners about the poor condition of the county's roads system.
And when the commissioners last month rejected a proposal from Belmont County Engineer Fred Bennett for an increase of $10 in the car license fee to raise more than $500,000 to provide the funds to improve some of the roads, the complaints intensified.
But the commissioners indicated at the time they had another plan for getting the money needed to fix the roads.
At Wednesday's commission meeting, Commissioner Charles Probst promised some of the roads will be improved. "I'm going to meet with the county engineer this afternoon to discuss $500,000 to $1 million worth of road improvements."
But his plans for the day were sidetracked because of an executive meeting that started at 1 p.m. and lasted until almost 4 p.m. The session was with the three county court judges to discuss a court order issued by them prior to the commission's May 22 meeting ordering a salary increase for employees from a 35-hour work week to a 40-hour work week.
Following that meeting - which the commission said provided no final decision on the issue - Probst said his head-to-head talk with Bennett on the road projects would be held the next morning (Thursday).
He was not ready to say exactly where the funds would be coming from to finance the improvements. Recently it had been indicated the county was in the process of negotiating a lease agreement for 90 acres of county-owned land with one of the shale development firms operating in the county. That transaction was expected to produce a sizeable chunk of money but it has not as yet been finalized. However, Probst added there was another source of funding being explored.
The main thing, Probst emphasized, is "we're going to get some of our county roads fixed."
Ever since the Ohio Valley Mall opened for business 34 years ago, stores have had their mail delivered to them. Not any more. No longer will a mail carrier be seen making the rounds from store to store delivering letters or packages.
A new system is now in effect that requires store owners to take a walk each day inside the mall to pick up their mail from a specially constructed mail station located in the corridor opposite the lobby the of Mall Cinemas.
"It started on Tuesday, the day after the holiday," St. Clairsville Postmaster Bill Bellville told me. Each business owner has a key to access his or her own mail box. Bellville said there are approximately 100 of the mail boxes with an individual key for each one. In addition there are 10 larger boxes for parcels and also slots for businesses to insert outgoing mail.
"It saves us about 45 minutes to an hour each day," Bellville noted. He said normally it took a mail carrier an hour to make the rounds hand-delivering mail. With the bank of new, locked mail boxes the mail carrier has just one stop to make.
Saturday marked the deadline for submission of applications for the newly established position of coordinator of the Belmont County Senior Citizens organization. Commissioners will begin now reviewing the applications with the aim of filling the position as quickly as possible.
Whoever takes over the helm of the seniors program will have a solid financial slate to begin operations. At Wednesday's Belmont County commissioners meeting, a financial report on the seniors program was revealed, showing it has a healthy cash fund balance as of April 30 of $5,158,002.47.
Many times over the years we've had reports here about white squirrels and white deer but now comes a new species. Debbie Larno, supervisor of customer service at the St. Clairsville Post Office, tells me she spotted a white robin. The bird was not entirely white. She said it had an orange breast like most robins.
The sighting occurred at Country Lake Drive, a subdivision off Hammond Road west of St. Clairsville. "I was delivering an express mail to 46140 County Lake Drive and it was across the road with another robin," Larno noted. She didn't allow the special sighting to go unrecorded as she whipped out her cellphone camera to snap a photo.
My departure from this corner of the Sunday News-Register the past two weeks was a very sudden, personal decision fostered mainly by my desire to make my wife, Janis, as comfortable as possible during her recuperation from surgery that denied her mobility on both feet.
Getting the simplest household chore accomplished with just one leg and crutches or a knee walker rented from the local medical supply store was virtually an impossible task for her. So I decided on full time home work and News-Register Executive Editor Mike Myer was very understanding and cooperative with my predicament.
Being a housemaid, nursemaid or any other kind of maid is just not my bag. I can do the dishes, something I have occasionally done for many years. But getting together breakfasts, lunches, dinners and keeping the house in somewhat of an orderly fashion, while at the same time doing some grocery shopping and taking care of the lawn and garden, and minor chores involved with her ambulatory problems proved to be considerably tiring for my body that has had considerable aches and pains of its own to contend with.
During the first two weeks after the operation on April 30, Janis was unable to put any pressure on her right foot. She had no cast so most of the time she was on her back with her right leg propped high to allow speedier healing of two incisions about four inches in length, each on top of her foot where the little bones were set in place and guarded by a metal plate. She actually broke her foot in March of last year while working as a nurse's aide at Wheeling Hospital's Continuous Care Center.
When the cast was removed from that injury she continued to have considerable pain walking because some of the bones were out of place. Finally she was approved for surgery more than a year after the original break.
Last week she was fitted with a boot that allows her to get around much easier on her 4-wheel knee walker, which proved to be quite an attraction at a family reunion last weekend because it can run fast and very smoothly and is equipped with a steering mechanism and brakes. Some of the "children" enjoyed a little ride.
Following surgery she was told her full recuperation would take three months. That leaves two more months to go and more in house activity for me. In between all those household chores the first month, I managed four doctor visits on my own while quietly observing my 85th birthday earlier this month. And I have six doctor visits on my own agenda for June.
For the past 10 years doctor visits have become a regular activity for me. There are eight I visit regularly and who have seen to my best health interests. I'm indebted to them.
But it's impossible to reverse the aging process, no matter how many doctors, which leads me to believe it is time after more than 30 years of "Around East Ohio" to end its production. Two of my doctors probably will disagree with that decision.
But consider this: My long journey with the N-R started on a frigid Feb. 1, 1954. My retirement in 1996 ended 42 years full time service. For 17 years after that I continued writing my weekly column.
Add to that four years employment with United Press International, 33 months of Army service during the Korean War period and two years summer employment during my junior and senior years in high school.
That adds up to a total of 69 years I've been working for a living. No wonder I'm tired, my legs ache and I'm beginning to forget names and some faces of the thousands of people I have come in contact with over the many years.
I'm most appreciative of all the kind words and comments I've received over the past two weeks from people who admitted missing this conglomeration of trivia I cook up each week. I also want to acknowledge and thank Ogden Nutting for coming to my assistance a few years ago.
I will miss you more than you miss me. But I'm sure we'll meet again somewhere along the way.
Al Molnar can be reached via email at: email@example.com or by phone at 740 695-5233.