The impact upon Barnesville residents and the hoped-for resulting impact upon local businesses was discussed by members of the Barnesville Area Chamber of Commerce at its February meeting held Wednesday at the Barnesville Senior Center.

Village Administrator Roger Deal said that the hot topic in the village was the signing of gas and oil leases with Antero Resources for those who own property within the village limits. He said that the village is also seeing increased activity in requests from oil and gas fracking companies to purchase water from the village. Deal said many contracts are currently being processed and the village is now selling water from the Slope Creek Reservoir that will generate $125,000 for the village.

It think this activity will benefit the village and the residents, Deal said. I hope we can hold on to the money to make it last into the future.

It is the small leases that will move the needle in terms of the economy of small businesses, said Chamber President Bill Steedle. He said the money residents receive from these leases will impact the local businesses and chamber members who should be ready to welcome their business.

In a change of format announced at the January meeting, member are forgoing the long-held tradition of each attendee taking a turn to speak, and instead are scheduling monthly speakers. After members heard from a representative of Comcast Business Class and the new advertising representative of 93 WBNV radio station, Ron Bischof, Barnesville Mayor and owner of Bischof Insurance and Financial Services, spoke about his business and the constant changes being made to employee insurance benefits due to the passing of President Obamas Health Care Act.

President Steedle said that there are openings to host meetings for August, October and November. The March meeting will be hosted by Olney Friends School. Shelley Rockwell, employee at the school, said they were looking forward to hosting the March meeting. She said the school is changing its day-student tuition rate to give local students more opportunity to attend a private school.

Steedle said the featured speaker for the March meeting will be a representative of the Ohio Consumers Council. Steedle said he chose the topic of business solicitation calls. He said there will be information provided on how to handle those calls and how to tell if they are scams. Steedle said he hopes the program gives good insight to members.

The chamber is ordering 150 new American flags, manufactured in Coshocton, Ohio, to be displayed on downtown village streets. Steedle said in addition to the 150 new flags purchased with money donated to the chambers flag fund, started by the late Bill and Irene Cowgill, the chamber is ordering 50 flags with grommets that will be available for purchase for the reduced price of $20 each.

Steedle said the chamber-operated Bureau of Motor Vehicles office recently erected a new sign. Steedle said the sign stands out from the building and draws attention to it. Steedle said both full and part-time employees of the BMV were recently given pay raises. He asked chamber members to give the employees positive feedback.

TheBelmont County Business Showcase is scheduled for Saturday, March 16 at the Barnesville Elementary School. Registration will begin on February 1.

The annual Community Spring Banquet will be held on Thursday, April 25 at 6 p.m. at the Barnesville Elks. Nominations for Employee of the Year, Community Service, Citizen of the Year and Lifetime Achievement are now being accepted. If you know someone deserv- ing of special recognition, please send your letter to the Chamber office at 130 W. Main St., Barnesville 43713 by April 5.