Downtowns Needed for Valley Communities
By SHELLEY HANSON
MARTINS FERRY — While many people attempt to claim that everyone just shops online these days, there are many local cities and villages with downtowns and Main Streets that people depend on for their goods and services on a daily basis.
For example, in the city of Martins Ferry on any given day, Fourth Street is a bustling area. It’s home to a Subway restaurant, Z’s Jewelry store, Dollar General, Hot Rod Tattoo parlor, banks, insurance and real estate offices, a flower shop, Carolina Furniture and much more.
The city also is home to East Ohio Regional Hospital on Fourth Street.
One block over on Fifth Street, the city has a toy store — Deluxe Toy & Hobby — and not many small cities can claim that. The city also has a large-scale bakery, Nickles, and large-scale dairy plant, United Dairy.
Across Ohio 7, in the industrial park, the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel mill may no longer be operating, but there are plenty of other companies that continue to produce in that area, including Wilson Blacktop, National Lime and Stone, Stony Hollow Tire and more.
Although the Fourth Street business district took a big hit after several businesses were destroyed by a fire in 2016, city and business leaders are trying to make it come back. The burned out buildings were torn down within a few months, and the lots are available for sale.
Mayor Robert Krajnyak previously said some companies have shown interest in the empty spaces on Fourth Street, in addition to other areas of the city.
The newly created Project Forward group last year started holding events to boost interest in Martins Ferry, including a weekly farmers’ market and vendor sales at the Good Neighbor gazebo on Hanover Street. The gazebo was constructed by State Farm agent Dan Stephens, who purchased the lot where the gazebo sits. He aims to redevelop the site, but for now it is being used to host the markets.
At Christmastime it was used as the site of the city’s first Winterfest.
Martins Ferry’s not the only local city with retail and commerce to offer. The village of Barnesville, famous for its annual Pumpkin Festival, has a downtown full of cute shops to browse for decor and gifts, in addition to everyday needs, such as banks, schools, drug stores and more. Antique shops also occupy several store fronts in the village.
According to the Barnesville Area Chamber of Commerce, some retail shops include Avenues of Barnesville, the Barnesville Antique Mall and Johnson Family Pottery. Looking for something sweet to eat? Try Miller’s Donuts. And a hometown favorite is Home Pizza.
Though not in the downtown, Barnesville also is home to the Dickinson Cattle Co., featuring Longhorn tours, and the Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum. The village also has Barnesville Hospital, located at 639 W. Main St. The facility was established in 1932.
The St. Clairsville area is well known for being home to the Ohio Valley Mall and Ohio Valley Plaza, but it also has a picturesque downtown that many people enjoy visiting.
Downtown St. Clairsville is home to the massive and ornate Belmont County Courthouse, which received an exterior renovation last year. Surrounding the courthouse are many businesses including retail shops, such as Three Labs Salvage, restaurants, such as the Newellstown Diner, law offices, banks, a public library and more. The downtown also is a historic district.
The village of Bellaire’s downtown area features a variety of retailers including the Bellaire Flower Shop, Save Rite Pharmacy, Buffalo Creek Primitives and Leva’s Jewelry. It also features the National Imperial Glass Museum on Belmont Street.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat in Bellaire, check out 24/7 Pizza or Lil’ Gerardo’s, both on Belmont Street, the Roosevelt and its handmade pasta on Union Street or Gulla’s Lunch, home of the famous Gulla dog.
The downtown also is home to the Turn It Out dance studio. On the edge of the business district, the village has a nice park with mature trees and large white gazebo where community events, such as the All-American Days, are held.
And while not in the downtown, Bellaire also has an unofficial Lego museum, called the Toy and Plastic Brick Museum on Noble Street. Bellaire also is known for being home to the historic Great Stone Viaduct, a railroad bridge that runs through the center of the village. The Great Stone Viaduct Society is working to preserve the structure and is raising money to construct a park in a large, grassy open space near it in the village.
The village of Bridgeport’s downtown on National Road may appear small, but it also has a variety of businesses including two antique stores, restaurant/bars, banks, a dentist, gas stations, a clothing shop, a hair stylist and more.