Brooke seeks bids to raze structures

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Commission has made plans to demolish two vacant buildings between the county courthouse and former county museum and strengthen a county ordinance against dilapidated structures.

The commissioners agreed Tuesday to seek bids for the demolition of the former Pertko and Charnock houses, which Commission President Tim Ennis said are in poor condition.

The commission has been awarded a $20,000 grant for dilapidated structures from the state Development Office.

Ennis said the commission has finalized purchase of the Pertko house, which it had initiated in 1999, from Norma Pertko, who moved from it some time ago.

The Charnock house has belonged to the county for many years. According to the Brooke County Genealogy Society, it was built in 1790 and formerly known as the John Henderson House.

The Pertko house is believed to have been built in 1849, according to the group’s online Walking Tour of Wellsburg.

The commissioners have discussed using space occupied by the two houses to create additional parking space or expand the courthouse.

Ennis said the main concern at this time is safety, saying both are at risk of collapsing.

“We can’t go on telling people to take care of their dilapidated structures when we have something that’s in bad shape ourselves,” he said.

Ennis said the commission hopes to strengthen a county ordinance against dilapidated structures.

The ordinance gives owners of dilapidated structures 30 days to repair or remove them. After that, they may be fined $100 per day.

Residents may file a complaint against a structure they feel is dilapidated through the County Clerk’s office.

If a structure is found to be dilapidated and the owner fails to correct it, the commission may order it demolished and place a lien on the property so any future purchase will go toward reimbursing the county for the demolition.

But the commission has lacked the funds for demolitions, though the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department secured a $15,000 grant for small cleanups involving several trailers.

Ennis said the commission will consider additional fines while exploring dilapidated structure ordinances in other counties.

In other business, the commission:

Approved levy rates for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. County Clerk Sylvia Benzo said the rates, which are unchanged from recent years, are as follows:

for the general fund, 14.3 cents per $100 of Class I property; 28.6 per $100 of Class II property; and 57.2 per $100 of Class III and IV property.

for the county’s ambulance excess levy: 1.38 cents per $100 of Class I property; 2.76 cents per $100 of Class II property; and 5.52 cents per $100 of Class III and IV property.

for the county’s fire levy: 2.97 cents per $100 for Class I property; 5.94 cents per $100 of Class II property; and 11.88 cents for Class III and IV property.

Heard from John Kokosinski, a resident of Marshall Terrace area who asked when public sewage would be extended to his area. Ennis suggested Kokosinski present his request to the Brooke County Public Service District board but noted the group currently is pursuing sewer line extensions to Eldersville and St. John’s roads and the Cross Creek area.

Kokosinski also asked the commission if it can improve pay for the county’s ambulance personnel.

Ennis said the commission would like to give raises to all county employees but revenue is down at this time while some expenses, such as healthcare, are rising.

Appointed Alfred DeAngelis of Follansbee to serve on the county’s building commission. There is still a vacant seat on the board, which was formed to pursue improvements to county buildings and funding sources.

It meets at 5 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month at the courthouse.