Passage of Washington County levies raises hopes for Belpre school officials

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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - 11/8/2017 6:30 P.M.

By an almost two to one margin, Belpre voters approved establishing a levy to help fund the city's volunteer fire department.

It will help pay for new equipment, and, eventually, replacing a 30 year-old fire truck.

City officials say the levy was necessary because a traditional source of funds for the volunteer fire department, weekly bingo games and regular lottery-type ticket sales, had declined in recent years.

"I think we presented the information, and were truthful about it, and told how it would be spent, when it would be spent, and Belpre came forward and came up to the plate," said Mayor Mike Lorentz. "And here we spend, successful."

Said Tony Dunn, Belpre School Superintendent: "I think the citizens came out and said, 'we need these services; they help us in our quality of life and our safety, and our health'."

Superintendent Dunn campaigned in support of the fire levy, as well as a levy for the county's behavioral health department (also known as the mental health levy).

That, too, was successful after a fifth try in nearly a decade.

The success of those issues bolsters Dunn's hopes for passage of a future levy for Belpre schools. It's one he says is needed due to losses in state and federal funding for the school system.

"We're in a financial crunch right now, and we will need to ask our voters very soon for their support to help our schools stay solvent."

Belpre voters have approved two new levy issues since the 1970's, both emergency levies, in 1989 and 2000.

There's no timetable for the levy to go on the ballot. But a recent forecast says the school system could run out of money as soon as the next school year.


On Nov. 7, Washington County residents voted mostly in favor of new taxes, and voted for new city council and school board members.

The Washington County Mental Health Levy passed 51% to 49%.

In Belpre’s 2nd Ward City Council race, Elmer Lee Shutts defeated incumbent Deborah Marshall with 65% of the vote.

In Belpre’s 4th Ward City Council race, Penne Riffle defeated Gregory Sanders with 73% of the vote.

3 candidates won At Large seats in the Belpre City Council, including Judy Drake and incumbents Donna Miller and Susan Abdella.

In Marietta City Council’s 3rd Ward, incumbent Steve Thomas defeated Stan Lang by a narrow margin, winning just 51% of the vote.

In the 4th Ward, Geoff Schenkel defeated Glen McCabe with 63% of the vote.

3 candidates won At Large seats in the Marietta City Council, including Cassidi Shoaf and incumbents Kathy Downer and Cindy Oxender.

The Village of New Matamoras has 4 new Village Council members: Jerry Felton with 31% of the vote, Terry Dunn and Adam Wolfe, each with 20% of the vote, and Janet Schwaben with 15% of the vote.

Current Marietta Municipal Court Judge Janet Dyar Welch won her re-election bid against Paul Bertram III, with 65% of the vote.

The Marietta City Board of Education has 3 new members: Mark Duckworth, Stacey Adams Hall, and J. Douglas Mallett.

The Warren Local Schools Board of Education has 1 new member, Debra Proctor, and two incumbents were re-elected: Bob Allen and Bob Crum.

Voters in several cities, townships and villages in Washington County also approved new tax levies to fund emergency services, roads and other expenses.

63% of Belpre City voters approved a Fire and Emergency Medical Services levy.

In Fearing Township, more than 80% of voters approved both a Fire and Emergency Protection levy and a road construction and maintenance levy.

58% of voters in the Village of Lowell approved a tax levy to fund the village’s current operating expenses.

In New Matamoras, voters approved a similar operational expense levy by 65%.

Newport voters approved a Fire and Emergency Protection levy by 86%.

79% of Warren Township and Watertown Township residents voted in favor of separate Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services levies for each township.

Finally, voters in Meigs County rejected a bond proposal to build a new Sheriff’s Office and Correctional Center to replace the current facility, which can only house 5 inmates and was built in the early 1900’s.

To see a complete list of the Township and Village Trustee election results in Washington County, see the "Other Washington County Election Results" link under the "Related Links" section of this story.

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