Brooke County adds building hearings

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Commission learned Tuesday of a change in the county’s handling of dilapidated structures and of an event planned by the Brooke County Museum and Cultural Center to promote its upcoming veterans book.

Richard Ferguson, chairman of a committee formed to address dilapidated structures, told the commission the group met recently with various court officials, including County Prosecutor Joseph Barki III.

Ferguson said Barki advised the committee it must hold a hearing where owners of alleged dilapidated structures may address the group before the committee recommends action to the county commission.

Barki, who was approached for comment, said under the current county ordinance, property owners may appeal the commission’s decision to the 1st Judicial Circuit Court and still may do so.

But he said holding a hearing before the dilapidated structure committee allows the property owner an opportunity to be heard before the group votes on whether to refer the property to the county commission.

Barki added though a public hearing wouldn’t be held by the county commission, the property owner may address the commissioners before they vote.

Adopted in recent years, the ordinance gives property owners 30 days to repair or remove dilapidated structures. After that, they may be fined $100 per day.

If the owner fails to act, the county may condemn the structure, order its demolition and place a lien on the property so if it is ever sold, the commission may recoup the costs for demolition.

The ordinance doesn’t apply to municipalities, where the commission doesn’t have jurisdiction, though some have their own ordinances.

Ferguson said the committee hasn’t taken a hard line approach when issuing warnings and it has met with cooperation from some local property owners.

But he and the commissioners said they have experienced more difficulty with those who are out of state.

In related business, Ferguson told the commission the group will prepare a priority list of sites it may address with a $20,978 state grant awarded for cleanup efforts.

The commission also learned the Brooke County Museum board will be on hand from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 9 at the museum to answer questions on its Military Heroes Project.

The project involves a planned series of books containing short biographies and recollections of military veterans of all ages in Hancock, Brooke and Ohio counties.

Ruby Greathouse, a member of the museum board, said veterans from all eras, including current service members, are invited to submit information and photos. Survivors of veterans who have died also may submit information on photos for them, she added.

Greathouse said so far about 50 submissions have been received. The board hopes to have the first volume printed by Memorial Day 2015, with plans for others to follow.

Museum board members and other volunteers will be on hand to accept submissions at the event. More information can be found at the museum’s Facebook page at Brooke County Museum Wellsburg.

Others involved with the effort include Vickey Gallagher, museum board president; Joan Simonetti Beck, Kathy Hawken and Dennis Jones.

Gallagher said it’s important to preserve the memories of older veterans particularly.

“It is so important to honor those who served our country. We lose a little bit of our history every day and this special project offers us a way to preserve the legacy of those who served their country with honor and valor.”

Gallagher said the event also offers veterans and others an opportunity to tour the museum, including its growing military displays.

The commission also noted there still are vacant seats on the county’s park and recreation commission, better known as the Brooke Hills Park board; building commission and solid waste authority. Letters of interest in the seats should be sent to the office of County Clerk Sylvia Benzo at the Brooke County Courthouse.

The board also approved the hiring of Marc McGowan as a part-time employee of the county’s animal shelter.