Weirton group hopes for expansion

WELLSBURG – The Weirton Redevelopment Authority has again asked the Brooke County Commission to allow it to include the former Weirton Steel Railyard in a development district.

Mark Zatezalo, chairman of the Redevelopment Authority, wrote to the commission, saying it hopes to expand the city’s Southern Redevelopment District to include the Half Moon portion of Weirton and the railyard, which is located just outside the city limits in Brooke County.

“The inclusion of the railyard will allow the authority to better plan an industrial road that would link the northern and southern portions of the city and allow trucks to be taken off the main thoroughfares of the downtown area,” he said.

Zatezalo added, “The benefits to quality of life and commerce would, in our opinion, be significant.”

He stressed the board isn’t seeking to annex the property, which would require the commission’s approval also.

Zatezalo offered to answer any questions the commission may have.

He and B.J. DeFelice, of the Weirton Port Authority, sought the commission’s OK in August and were asked to submit their request in writing.

Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said members of the commission, the Weirton board and the Brooke County Economic Development Authority should meet to discuss the proposal.

Commission President Tim Ennis said, “We’ll talk about it and maybe next week we’ll have some direction on this.”

The commission also heard from Norm Schwertfeger, vice chairman of the county’s economic development authority, who said the group is planning to update an inventory of developable land compiled in 2004 with the help of County Assessor Tom Oughton.

Schwertfeger, who also has been involved in the restoration of the former tollhouse at Brooke Hills Park as a West Virginia University Extension agent, said there are plans to use about $2,000 remaining from a $160,000 state grant for the project to pursue electrical upgrades to the interior.

The rest of the grant was used to replace the 175-year-old house’s deteriorating foundation and sections of its roof, add wood siding, remove a front porch and rear addition added in later years and add a small room that will serve as a restroom.

Pending available funds, future plans include installing heating and air conditioning, restoring the interior walls and stairwell and adding a handicap-accessible ramp at the rear.

Located at Brooke Hills Park on state Route 27, a former toll road, the house may be used as a visitors center or gift shop.

In other business, the commission:

Approved the hiring of former county sheriff Richard Ferguson to assist in the completion of citystyle addressing of unincorporated areas of the county. He will be paid $8 per hour for his assistance to Cheryl Dick, who was hired, on a full-time basis, in November to complete the task.

She and her husband Terry, who died on Dec. 29, had worked first as volunteers and later, for part-time wages, under Ferguson’s direction to complete addressing efforts begun by former sheriff Bernie Kazienko.

Ferguson said Dick’s work includes verifying that county records of occupants at each address are correct and entering the new numbered street addresses into the computer system used by the county’s emergency 911 center so they will be displayed whenever a local caller phones the center.

He said all residents affected by the new addressing have been notified by mail. Residents of some roads that already had numbered addresses, such as state Route 27, will retain them.

Anyone with questions about the addresses should call (304) 737-3660 ext. 104.

Ferguson said everyone should post their street numbers in a place that can be seen clearly from their roads in keeping with a county ordinance that calls for a fine up to $500 for non-compliance.

He said the same equipment used to create signs for many county roads is being used to create numbered signs for interested residents for a cost of $25 to defray the cost of the addressing efforts.

Though municipalities weren’t part of the addressing effort, numbered signs are now available in specific colors – blue for Follansbee, black for Wellsburg and green for Bethany.

Ferguson noted citystyle addressing was done to help mail carriers and emergency departments locate homes and businesses, and posting numbered signs supports that.

In other business:

Attorney Wayne Mielke advised the commission, in writing, that it owes a $19,000 payment to Norma Pertko for the purchase of her property adjacent to the county courthouse made in 1999. Andreozzi said the commission is working to correct that.

With Pertko not living in her home and the adjacent Charnock house vacant, the commission has discussed tearing down the two houses, which sit between the courthouse and county museum, to create additional parking space and allow a possible addition to the courthouse.

Brooke County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Heck, who assists Sheriff Chuck Jackson in overseeing the emergency 911 center, said Marsha Kazienko, a dispatcher there for 20 years, will retire on March 31.

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