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740-472-0734 P.O. Box 70, Woodsfield, OH  43793   monroecountybeacon@sbcglobal.net

Below are links to portions of this week's news articles. For the full story, pick up a paper at your local newsstand or send $2 ($2.50 if the issue is over 3 months old) with date of paper requested, your name and address to P.O. Box 70, Woodsfield, OH  43793 and we will send you a paper.

January 20, 2011

A large crowd filled the River High auditorium Jan. 11 when the Switzerland of Ohio Local School Board held a special meeting to inform parents, grandparents, teachers and concerned citizens about the status of the River High and Sardis/Hannibal schools project. The presenters of the proposed revisions to the master plan were met with criticism, skepticism and accusations. Presenting some of the options to the audience was architect Gary Balog.      
Photo by Martha Ackerman

Proposed Revisions to the River High and Sardis/Hannibal

Elementary Project’s Master Plan Comes Under Fire

by Martha Ackerman


Proposed revisions to the master plan for River High School and the Sardis/ Hannibal schools project were met with skepticism and accusations by those attending a special meeting of the Swit-zerland of Ohio Local School Board held at River High School Jan. 11. The auditorium was filled with concerned parents, grandparents, teachers, employees and others.

Those present were told that due to a $1,090,585 projected budget overrun on the combination project, alternatives need to be considered. Board president Scott Dierkes told the crowd that the board wants their input on these alternatives.

Board members attending, in addition to Dierkes, included Janet Schwall, Teresa Gallagher, Ron Winkler and Ed Carleton. Also present to answer questions and present alternatives were Stacey Thomas, project administrator, Ohio Schools Facilities Commission; Kevin Green, senior vice-president of Project and Construction Services, Inc. (PCS); PCS project manager John Jefferis and architect Gary Balog; SOLSD administrative assistant George Richardson and treasurer Janet Hissrich.

Green told the crowd that the project cannot proceed until the district can show it can come in on budget. He said the district does not have the funds available to contribute the required local share of $403,516 to cover the anticipated $1,090,585 overrun. The solution would be to develop an alternative master plan that reduces the overall cost through a reduction in the area of the K-8 building and still utilize the existing high school with an addition.

Another expense that was not initially budgeted were turning lanes into the River and Woodsfield complexes. The state has given an estimate of $300,000 for each turning lane. Local share is 37%, estimated to be approximately $110,000 each or $220,000.

Thomas was met with vocal disagreement when she told the crowd that she had run the numbers the previous night and it would be $2,324,424 less to build a new school vs. renovating River High School. It was evident by the crowd’s loud negative response that this was not a popular alternative. Thomas also told the crowd that the River project had received two percent more than the other school building projects because it was a renovation rather than a new building. People in the crowd began asking where the extra two percent was. They were told it is included in the original combined budget for River and the Sardis/Hannibal projects of $23,127,501 ($11,521,577 for Hannibal/Sardis; $11,605,924 for River).

Market conditions were blamed for the estimated overrun based on the recent bid results at Beallsville and Monroe Central/Woodsfield projects, which have exceeded both the budget and the estimates – the current estimates for Hannibal/Sardis K-8 and River High School reflect these anticipated higher costs. This estimate includes increased costs for asphalt paving, masonry, structural steel, windows, HVAC piping and controls.

Concern was addressed as to where the money came from for the previous projects to continue if the bids came in higher than anticipated. They were told that aesthetics like the type of brick, fewer windows, etc. were changed to decrease the cost. According to Dierkes in a phone conversation Jan. 17, there is a contingency fund for each school project. Some of these funds were used for the overruns. In addition to each school’s building and contingency funds, there is another group fund not earmarked for any particular building that can be used as needed. Dierkes said six out of the seven school projects have benefitted from some of that money including the  land purchase at Powhatan. According to Dierkes, there is approximately $187,000 left in that fund. (this fund balance was reported as $55,000 at the Jan. 11 meeting but, according to Dierkes, that for some unknown reason that number was reported incorrectly).  Accusations as to how this group fund is used were voiced. “We’re the only ones asked to compromise,” noted one person.

Several alternative options for the RHS renovations and Sardis/Hannibal K-12 were presented during the four-hour meeting. Balog, who showed drawings of the optional designs, told the crowd there could be changes made to either option. One option was to attach the Sardis/Hannibal K-8 to the existing River High. According to Balog, this option would bring the project close to budget. In this option, some of the spaces would be shared by the high school and the elementary school. Some residents expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the dining facilities might be shared by students, kindergarten through high school.

There were those in the crowd that objected to the K-12 plan. With the kindergarten already being housed at River High, teachers and parents said that the older students took the younger ones under their wings and they feel the K-12 is not a problem. “I don’t think a K-12 would be a problem,” said Joanie Wells, a local resident who works in the multi-handicapped room at River.

“We voted. We are not the only people who count. There was a specific number of buildings and the renovation,” said Shelly Hulsey. “Then suddenly we’re presented with this. A credibility issue has to be addressed. I oppose a K-12 building. I think the teachers should have input. Our taxes went up hundreds of dollars. Would you consider another site (Hannibal/Sardis school)?”

Kelly Merideth, school bus driver and local business owner, voiced her opinion, “If you think we live in a perfect world, we don’t. Pre-schoolers sit beside high school students on my bus. Do the feasible renovations and have the addition and give the children what they need. They all get on the same bus. We don’t have kids shot (this reference was made due to another comment voiced). Why can’t we make this work?

 One resident, who noted he worked with engineers, wanted to know why core drillings were not done before the estimates were released. He was told nothing could have been done until the levy had been passed.

Local resident Jim Miller asked, “How long have you been aware of this situation?” Dierkes said that it was mentioned during the Dec. 17 core meeting but the board was not presented with it until the past week.

“You’ve been given so many special considerations for this school district to help you build schools,” said Thomas. “You guys have been given a tremendous opportunity. Act like a school district instead of three separate communities. Don’t keep your children from getting what they deserve.”

“Make the decision that is  best for your students,” said Jane Roth Williams, noting she is a product of River and Woodsfield.

During a poll of the board, Schwall, noting she is an RHS graduate, told the crowd that her oldest granddaughter is attending school in the trailer park. “Students have been going to school in two trailers for 16 years. You have a facility here,” she told the people as her emotions rose. “These professional people have worked their tails off to get us these schools. They listened to our struggles … I want your children to have the best. The main thing is education, not about sports.” She noted that in the year she has been on the board only one person has come to ask about curriculum. “That’s sad,” she said. “Our children are our future. I have seen so much animosity in this district. We (the board) could have made the decision. We’re here to hear your concerns. You’ve talked over people and that’s rude. We’re here for every school. The whole district is important to us. Please, please pull together. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t blow it,” Schwall concluded.

“I’ve learned that we have to do what’s best for the kids,” said Gallagher, a Beallsville High graduate. “It’s not made me popular. If we were taking money from one school for another, I’d be the first to object. Beallsville has always been a K-12. If done correctly, I truly believe a K-12 is not a problem unless we create that problem. We want to do what you want if it is feasible.”

“The K-12 has worked very well at Beallsville,” said Carleton. “People in the building make it work.” He noted that he has two kids who played basketball and when they played River they asked why they didn’t have a nice gym like River.

“I like to know the pros and cons,” said Winkler. “What happens at Powhatan and Skyvue? I’ve never built new schools.” He added that he thought there should be another meeting.

Kathy Williams, who works in the multi-handicapped room, said, “The older students take them under their wings. Older kids really protect the younger ones.”

“It’s the first time I’ve heard of these changes,” said Linda Josefczyk, guidance counselor at RHS. “The core meetings are held behind closed doors. Why doesn’t the public have a presence at these meetings?”

She was told the meetings were sized to be productive and there is no reason the public can’t attend. There are minutes and they are a matter of public record. 

“We must look what we have in front of us and go forward. We want to know what you want,” said Dierkes.

Another meeting was set for Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 5 p.m.at River High School, which has given people a week to think over the options presented at the meeting.

Around the Burnside     

Memories are a paradise from which you cannot be driven away.

No time is ever wasted that makes two people better friends.

Are you as tired of snow as I am? I’ve decided we’ve had about all the snow we need this year. Not that this makes any difference because we will have weather, whether or not. It does give us something to talk about. You can growl about the weather and it will do nothing about it or get mad.

I do enjoy it when a reader shares some of their thoughts or experiences either in person or by letter. Some of the things shared would be lost if not written down.

As an example, a reader sent a letter a while back relating some of the things they did for a cold years ago. I did not know of these cures while growing up as Vicks Salve was what mom used most of the time.

The reader said her mother used skunk grease. Yes, skunk grease. Her mother kept a bottle of skunk grease in the cupboard. Her mother would put some on a heavy piece of flannel and warm it as hot as she could then pinned it on her night clothes. She wrote “Believe me the next morning the cold was loosened up.”

I understand her father would furnish the skunk fat and her mother would render it. Just one more thing kids are missing out on nowadays. The reader also indicated there was no odor with the skunk grease.

Another cure the reader shared that Esther could remember but I couldn’t. the reader shared that her mother would make a poultice out of onions. She would fry the onions until they were black and putting that on a cloth hat.

Strange as it may seem to the youth today, I’m sure the cures mentioned were used and probably effective. I know there were other methods we’ve used when a cold struck. Come to think about it though, I can’t remember having too many colds while growing up. Maybe the cure had something to do with it. I kind of remember a friend who pretended to have a cough in order to get some cough drops he liked. He ended up really having a bad cough and cold.

Do you read the letters to the editor that most papers print? I do. I enjoy knowing what others think and it takes a bit of nerve to send it in. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought I should write a letter and then backed off.

I’ve felt while writing Around the Burnside to stay away from my personal opinion most of the time. I will admit though I did express my opinion many times regarding the FFA program at Swiss Hills and some things regarding school. So be it.

I read most of the letters the sixth graders wrote even if they were about the same event. I thought they were excellent and I understand they all received a 100 percent grade for their work.

Any of you who read last week Ken Darby’s letter to the editor know one thing for sure. You know exactly his feelings about the recent bus, knife deal. He also expressed it so others would know. I liked that.

Now for my two cents. I think Channel 9 has somehow developed a direct pipeline to Switzerland of Ohio School District. It seems that every little thing that happens they have it on their news programs and typical media process and try to make it sound really bad. Knives on the school bus is the latest. They sent a reporter down along with the camera crew to take pictures, interviews and make it sound almost like kids were flashing knives around on the bus. I heard it on the news three or four times and I’m almost sure it was a part of their news more than that. They must have a problem getting any news.

Right or wrong it’s not up to me to decide; however, I do know for sure that a couple of schools had the same money making activity and we heard nothing about it.

Right or wrong the thing should have been handled within the district not spread over this area of the state. After all school is for learning not finding fault and making a big deal with every little thing.

Now that I’ve retired for over 20 years I can confess. For 16 years I carried a pocket knife to school every day. I can’t count the times I used it, even loaned it to a student at times.

I know times have changed. I do know when I rode the bus there were several knives along for the ride. Most of the boys had a knife in their pocket.

In grade school and even in high school we would play numbly peg. The big blade fully open, the small blade half-way. Various ways were tried to stick them in the ground. I forgot what all we did do. I even enjoyed whittling.

Advise is what we ask for when we already know the answer.

The church doors are open to all.



“We can’t believe someone would steal a bell,” said Lee Ann Dunlap, pastor of Hannibal Methodist Church. The bell was found missing Jan. 2. A parishioneer is offering a $5,000 reward for the recovery of the 1871 nickel and cast iron bell.              Photo Submitted 

1871 Hannibal Church Bell Stolen

by Martha Ackerman

“We can’t believe someone would steal a bell,” said Lee Ann Dunlap, pastor of Hannibal United Methodist Church. But someone did ... The bell, dating back to 1871, was stolen from the front of the church during the overnight hours of Jan. 2. “You have to be pretty desperate to steal from a church. You have to be desperate to steal from anybody,” said the pastor.

The 20-inch in diameter bell, made of nickel and cast iron is very heavy, leading Dunlap to believe more than one person committed the crime. When the custodian came to the church, he noticed the bell was missing. The bell has adorned the Hannibal United Methodist Church for the last 10 years. It was never rung, but used as decoration.

“A bell that old represents a piece of Methodist history in this valley and cannot be replaced,” said the pastor. She fears that it could have been melted down for money.

According to Dunlap, the bell was rescued from a coal bin in the basement of the church sometime between 1999 and 2001. The trustees cleaned the bell, which is dated 1871, and decided to place it in front of the church. If anyone has any history on this bell, please call the Beacon office at 740-472-0734.

“I hope they realize their mistake,” said Robert R. Spear, a 62 year member of the church. “Maybe the Lord will make them repent of their sins. It was something we’ve never dreamed of happening. That someone would stoop so low as to steal from the church.”

“If thieves really needed money, they could have walked in the door and asked,” said Dunlap. “We would have been happy to help.”

“While they stole history, it can’t take away our joy or future,” continued the pastor, who filed a report with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. The incident is still under investigation.

A parishioner from the church is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who finds the bell and returns it safely.


Quilt Barn Reunion Set for Jan. 26

Calling all Monroe County Patchwork Jewels Committee members and Barn Owners. You are invited to a  PATCHWORK JEWELS BARN REUNION on Jan. 26 in the meeting room of the Monroe County District Library at 1:30 p.m. This reunion is being coordinated by Suzanne Pollock and Stephanie Rouse.

Discussion will revolve around:
• Assets the Quilt Barns have been to you and the county, (15-20 minutes sharing time reflecting on people who have stopped by your Patchwork Jewel)
• Current condition of the barns,
• Future Quilt Barn candidates,
• How tourism to each township can be encouraged to
feature artists and businesses, 
• New maps to encourage “A drive through the Patchwork Jewels of MC”

Auxiliary ideas for the conversation will include:
1. Making a National Regimental Flag for presentation at the Civil War Event in June, 
2. How to encourage young people to get involved in the artistic quality of life of MC.

Organizations would like to discuss: Do we want to add to the Patchwork Jewels?  Set criteria – find funding?  (4x8 hanging quilts are applicable for many locations as well as might be projects of student art classes). 

Does MC want to become a part of the “Quilt Barn Corridor” consisting of Bel-mont, Harrison and Monroe Counties?  (Will take combined publicity effort and contacting tourism groups in other counties).

Founder, Donna Sue Groves is planning a celebration in May 2011 of all Quilt Barn participants  nationwide. Do we want to tell our story? Those interested can take a look at:


Our Readers Write

Hello Monroe County Beacon,

I surely enjoy receiving your weekly paper. It usually arrives on Saturday and I read it cover-to-cover in the afternoon.

My Mother stayed with her grandparents on a farm near Beallsville many times in the early 1900s. The settlement was named “Twilight” and no longer exists. Even the church is gone but the cemetery remains. She had so many fond early childhood memories of the area and kept in touch with several families until her passing in 2001 at age 98.

I started my teaching career in the mid 60s nearby in Barnesville. I’m always especially interested in news from the Barnesville area.

Keep up the good work.


Sam Bean, Fairmont, W.Va.

■  1-20 Classifieds


Mary “Sue” Ritchie, 67, Columbus, formerly of Fly, died Jan. 15, 2011, at Doctor’s Hospital in Columbus. She was born Aug. 24, 1943 in Sistersville, W.Va., the daughter of the late Paul and Leona Haddox Tuel.

She was a member of Gravel Hill Baptist Church in Fly and loved crocheting and crafting.

Surviving are her husband of 48 years, Earl “Bud” Ritchie; two sons, Robert “Doug” (Lisa) Ritchie of Columbus and Michael (Marcee) Ritchie of Cambridge; two brothers, Richard “Dick” (Phyllis) Tuel of Fly, Gordon (Judy) Tuel of Marysville; five grandchildren, Brendan, Caitlin and Andrew Ritchie, Evan and Marissa Ritchie; a special cousin, Colette Tennant of Oregon; several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

Friends were received Jan. 18 at Grisell Funeral Home New Martinsville; on Jan. 19, from noon until time of funeral service at 1 p.m. at Gravel Hill Baptist Church, Fly, with Pastor Calvin Ferrell officiating. Burial in Gravel Hill (Mehrley) Cemetery, Fly.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 870 Michigan Ave., Columbus, OH 43215.

Sympathy expressions at grisellfuneralhomes.com 

Carl Richard Ady, 58, Cameron, died Jan. 3, 2011 at Woodsfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He was born June 30, 1952 in Cameron, a son of the late Charles William and Margaret (Maggie) Catherine Vaness Ady.

He worked at Barefoot Sole in Wadsworth for 15 years. After retiring he returned to Cameron and became a farmer where he lived until his passing.

Surviving are his wife of 30 years, Vickie Diann Hart Ady of Cameron; two sons, Tom (Jaime) Ady of Creston, Todd (Amber) Ady of Creston; three daughters, Carla (Larry) Baker of Creston, Chastity (Chris) Pletcher of Beallsville, Destanie Hart of the home; two brothers, Roger Ady of Cameron, Jerry (Donna) Ady of Cameron; four sisters, Lorna (Ron) Ewers of Lewisville, Donna (John) Broemsen of Jerusalem, Nancy (Kenny) Buohl of Wadsworth, Hazel Morris of Wadsworth; 10 grandsons; 2 granddaughters; and 14 nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a grandson, Christen Alexander Ady; and a nephew, Charles Michael Hoke.

Friends were received Jan. 5 at Bauer-Turner Funeral Home, Woodsfield, where funeral services were held Jan. 6, with Keith Jones officiating. Burial was in Cameron Cemetery.

Condolences can be expressed at www.bauerturner.com 

John C. “Bud” Mellott, 92, Beallsville, died Jan. 13, 2011 in Woods-field Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He was born May 20, 1918 near Beallsville, a son of the late Calvin and Mary Jeffers Mellott.

He was a farmer, a former school bus driver and also a retired employee of Ormet in Hannibal. He was a U.S. Navy veteran of WWII, a member of Sunsbury Lodge #362, F & AM and American Legion Post #768.

Surviving are four children, Marie (Robert) Bucklew of Newport News, Va., Benny Mellott of Pataskala, Susan Mellott of Westerville, Paul Mellott of Beallsville; three granddaughters, Christy (David Crosby) Bucklew, Amber (Sam) Jaeger, Bamma Mellott; five great-grandchildren, Katie Bucklew, Aubrey Gore, Cody Crosby, Christian Crosby and August Jaeger.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Jessie Marmie Mellott; two sisters, Marie E. Mellott, Sara Christman; an infant brother, Paul; two grandsons, Jimmy Mellott and Jay Bucklew.

Friends were received Jan. 16 at Harper Funeral Home, Beallsville, where funeral services were held Jan. 17, with Rev. Richard Wilson and Minister Jeff Rich officiating. Burial followed in Beallsville Cemetery with full military honors by American Legion Post #768. Masonic services were conducted Jan. 16 at the funeral home.

Online condolences may be offered at www.harperfh.net