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Cyril Wecht Addresses St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce Dinner

Dr. Cyril Wecht was the featured speaker during the 2021 St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce Dinner and Awards at Belmont College. Wecht summarized his analysis and theories about the irregularities of several high-profile assassinations, homicides and deaths. (Photo by Robert A. DeFrank)

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce enjoyed a spirited evening at Belmont College and recognized businesses that have gone above and beyond in their commitment to the community during the 2021 annual dinner and awards Thursday

The attending business representatives also enjoyed a fascinating presentation from Dr. Cyril Wecht, celebrated forensic pathologist who has weighed in on the irregularities of numerous high-profile murders since the 1960s.

Belmont Savings Bank took the prize of Business of the Year. Wheeling Hospital, the scheduled presenter, was unable to be represented, but speaker E.J. Schodzinski, director of marketing and development at Crittenton Hospital, read the hospital’s statement.

“How they feel about this community is evident in everything they do. They have a passion. They care, and they are living life out in the community daily,” he said, adding that this includes sponsoring local events and helping businesses and individuals achieve their goals. “They always have something on the calendar that has something to do with the community.”

“This truly means the world to us,” Belmont Savings Bank President Todd Cover said, adding the bank is committed to the community.

“We’re not a typical bank,” he said. “We like to have a lot of fun, but that’s not what separated us. What separates us is two words: we care. … We care about our customers. We care about communities. We care about the schools. … We’re always there.”

Cover credited the staff for making this possible.

“I can’t promise we’ll always solve all your problems, but I can promise you a few things: we’ll be there to listen, we’ll give you everything we’ve got…and most importantly, we will care.”

He received a standing ovation.

United Way of Upper Ohio Valley was awarded for Community Involvement. Jessica Rine, executive director, accepted the award from Belmont College President Dr. Paul Gasparro.

“For the tremendous efforts they put forth in the tri-state area and the work that they’ve put on for the community is unparalleled,” Gasparro said.

The Residence Inn by Marriott in St. Clairsville was awarded Distinguished Employer of the Year for providing opportunities for a wide range of employees with disabilities.

“We’re very committed. We appreciated it. We try our best and try to do better each year,” Brianna Ball, operations manager for Residence Inn, said.

Brenda Garletts, outreach coordinator of the Belmont Career Center, was named Ambassador of the Year for her efforts in promoting the area and gaining new chamber members since late 2019. She credited St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce Director Wendy Anderson with inspiring her to act as an ambassador.

“I went down to the chamber office and I had just moved here and didn’t know anybody,” Garletts said. She added that community spirit, compassion, relatability and an ability to talk to people were vital to the work. “I’m a very good volunteer. … I’m proud the program has continued to grow. We do a lot of different things, we visit a lot of different events, but it just keeps growing.”

Schodzinski said the chamber now has 500 business members.

“Quite an accomplishment,” he said.

Wecht’s keynote presentation took on a personable atmosphere as he interspersed personal stories and impressions with the recitation of historical homicides.

He lamented the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic and referred to other widespread diseases that have impacted the nation in the past. He also encouraged all to get vaccinated.

He also commented on the rising popularity of forensic science, particularly since it has gained prominence in many forms of fiction. He added that forensic science has existed in one form or another throughout civilization, and forensic science programs are being taught in a multitude of colleges.

“It’s caught on like wildfire,” he said.

He related his investigations into facts and irregularities surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, including odd decisions of who was selected to perform the autopsy, and leveled criticisms against the FBI’s activities. He also went over oddities in the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as events surrounding the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, the murder of JonBenet Ramsey and the death of Elvis Presley, all of which are also discussed in Wecht’s various books.

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