APPALACHIAN OHIO Mayor struggles to help poor village
The median household income is barely more than half the state average.
MACKSBURG, Ohio (AP) -- Three thousand people lived here in its heyday 145 years ago, when oil was discovered in the rich Appalachian soil.
Today, the derricks are dry, and Macksburg is the poorest municipality in the state with a poverty rate of 45 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Mayor Dick Starr, 69, said trying to improve the quality of life has been difficult.
"We have 5- and 6-year-old kids sitting on the road at 11 at night. Nobody's got control," Starr said. "We need organization and supervision, yes. But how can I get somebody to manage Little League when you can't get the beer out of their hands?"
At public meetings, residents sometimes curse, threaten one another with physical violence and throw chairs. Two of six council members have resigned, and no one has applied to fill the seats.
Macksburg is tucked in an isolated rectangle of northern Washington County, about 85 miles southeast of Columbus.
Its exit off Interstate 77 doesn't have a fast-food restaurant or a gas station, but it does have an adult video store and a sign promising private viewing booths for just 25 cents.
There's no downtown, and only one store -- the D & amp;E Drive-In.
The population has dipped to 220 or so, and the median household income -- $22,188 -- is barely more than half the state average.
However, Starr's supporters said he's working hard to change that.
"Nobody has done more for Macksburg than Dick," said his sister Dorothy Kemp, who was also once mayor. Kemp said that Starr's accomplishments include paving roads and sidewalks and sending children on trips to amusement parks.
"If anything, he tries too hard," she said. "And then gets too mad."
At the top of Starr's wish list is finding a person to serve as a marshal, to help curb drug dealing, public drinking and vandalism. The village's last marshal had stopped coming to work.
An incident involving a previous marshal underscores the village's law enforcement travails.
A trucker who ignored one of the village's "no-thru" signs went through the village and refused to stop.
"The marshal had to pull him out of his truck and Mace him," Starr said. "Charged him with resisting arrest."
It was once of the first tickets the village issued in years.
But when Starr went to court to witness the proceedings, the judge dismissed the charge on a technicality, saying the Macksburg marshal was not properly dressed.
John Marsh, assistant law director in Marietta, disagreed with the dismissal, but the judge didn't budge. "His entire uniform hadn't come in yet. He had the jacket, marked car and badge," Marsh said.
"He had on Levi's instead of black pants," Starr said, dejected. "See? We have no way to protect our streets."