BELPRE - The City of Belpre was taken over by Belpre High School seniors on Monday for the annual Student Government Day event.
Roughly 20 members of the school's social studies senior class were voted by their peers to represent city officials during the day that began with swearing in ceremonies in the morning and ended with them sitting in for council members and city officials during Monday night's Belpre City Council meeting.
Several of these students also sat in for city officials the mayor, city prosecutor and police chief during a mock Belpre Mayor's Court trial in the afternoon.
Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz, left, speaks with Belpre High School senior Allison Gherke who was elected by her peers to represent him on Monday for the annual Student Government Day event. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
"I had no plans to participate when it was announced, but I'm glad I did it," said Leah Roberts, who sat in as city prosecutor. "I have found the day very beneficial because I learned the importance of the different courts and how the city works."
Longtime councilman Dewey Robinson said Monday's group of students did a good job with the agenda and what they did during the council meeting Monday night.
"This is the first time I've had a student out of the 4th Ward, which I represent, sit in for me," Robinson said. "I've been here 27 years and I've enjoyed every minute of it."
Mayor Mike Lorentz said this year's students were "a good group."
"It has been a pleasure, as usual, to have these young people work with us," he said. "If these are our future leaders, than I think we are OK."
Council president Will Neff said that the students did an "extraordinary job" filling their counterparts' shoes.
"These are some sharp young people and I think they are going to bode well for our country in the future," he added.
Students who participated in the event included: Allison Gherke who represented Lorentz; Chelsea Carpenter who sat in safety-service director Dave Ferguson's seat; Cody Martin represented city law director Tom Webster; Zach Thompson was Neff's council president counterpart; and Colton Parsons worked as Kim Meredith's clerk of council.
As for council members, at-large members Susan Abdella, Bob Wallace and John Newberry were represented by Alex Johnston, Chris Matheny and Robby Postlewaite.
Trent Stanley sat in for 1st Ward councilman Larry Martin, while 2nd Ward councilwoman Debbie Marshall was represented by Darlene Pickering, 3rd Ward councilman Eric Sinnett was represented by Jay Mason - who also filled in for Fire Chief Bob Frank - and 4th Ward councilman Dewey Robinson was aided by Hazel Greg.
Other city officials represented were Kayla Roberts for Police Chief E.D. Clevenger, Bryce Pittenger for city auditor Leslie Pittenger - who is also his aunt -and Ryan Leasure for city treasurer Bill McAfee.
Belpre City Government Day is always held the second Monday of December and was started more than 30 years ago by current Belpre Board of Education member Rod Hineman.