Funds found for dilapidated structures

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Commission received news Tuesday it was awarded $20,978 to address dilapidated structures.

State Del. Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, presented confirmation of the Governor’s Community Partnership Grant to pursue the removal of homes and buildings found to be a threat to safety or public health.

The commissioners and Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson expressed their appreciation, but Jackson said the money will only go so far.

“I’m glad we got the money, but sadly we have more dilapidated buildings than we have grant money,” he said.

Commission President Tim Ennis agreed, saying, “The funding we have doesn’t meet our need.”

Jackson said while just four complaints have been filed through the county clerk’s office, there are about 24 buildings in unincoporated areas that need to be torn down.

Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said the commission should establish a system for prioritizing which receive attention first.

A county ordinance adopted in recent years gives owners of dilapidated structures 30 days to repair or remove them. After that, they may be fined $100 per day. If the owners continue not to respond, the county may condemn the structures, order their demolition and place a lien on the property so if it is ever sold, the commission may recoup the costs for demolition.

But the commission has lacked the funds to remove the structures, though former county Sheriff Richard Ferguson secured a $15,000 state grant to remove or clean up several trailer sites.

Jackson said another problem is the homeowners often lack funds for the repairs. But Andreozzi said some have made an attempt to address the county’s complaints.

In other business:

– The commission received a letter from Selva and Roy Mallory and other residents of Archer Heights asking for the grassy areas of Lee Boulevard, First Street and Alley D to be closed. The residents said the areas are frequented by youth on all-terrain vehicles who ride at high speeds, causing risk to themselves as well as damaging property.

– Andreozzi told Jackson he’s received complaints of the area of state Route 2 near the former Wheeling Culvert Plant in Beech Bottom being dusty when dry and muddy when natural gas pipeline crews there have wet it in an attempt to address the problem.

Jackson said putting debris, including mud, on roadways is a safety violation. He said he’s approached the companies there and they are trying to correct it.

Jackson said he believes the dust comes from limestone laid in the plant’s lot and as it settles it may become less of a problem.

– The commissioners approved hiring four emergency medical technicians for the county’s ambulance service – Christian Heck, Michael Lowry, John Sitka and Kayla Parr – and John Stofen as a dispatcher for the emergency 911 center.

Jackson said he plans to hire one or two more dispatchers for the center.