Government, Latest News, Preston County

Commission discusses poor road conditions and DOH action

New year, same topic

KINGWOOD — It may be 2021, but the topic at this week’s Preston County Commission meeting smacked of 2018: Roads.

In April 2018, the commission declared a countywide state of emergency due to road conditions. Some progress has been made, commissioners have said, but there’s plenty left to fix, they said Tuesday.

Commissioner Dave Price started  by mentioning problems with roads being used in Terra Alta to get around a CSX bridge closed since August 2017.

 The bridge carries vehicles between W.Va. 7 and Highland Avenue. Commissioners requested an update on the bridge repair last year from CSX and the State Division of Highways, but Price said it’s still in limbo.

“I think the reply was basically ‘It’s him,’ ” Price said, indicating finger-pointing by the two agencies. “I would make it a priority to send a letter to both that requests an honest, truthful answer about where that stands.”

 Somebody needs to step up, Commissioner Samantha Stone said. They were told earlier the project was to have started within three years, Commission President Don Smith said.

 “We’re in a fresh new year,” and I’m tired of it, Price said.

The detour around the bridge has created an “extremely deep” drainage hole that is creating sinkholes in people’s yards, Price said. He said he was told the DOH will bring a “sucker truck” to clean it out sometime. 

Smith said the DOH is studying how to address drainage issues at the Tunnelton underpass, another long-term project.

Stone said it is important not to forget  voters passed bonds for highways but, she said, Preston hasn’t seen any of that money yet.

“We need to have discussions with the DOH to get these things moving,” she said.

“We need to remind the [Division] of Highways that we’re paying attention. That we understand that things have been difficult, but there is no reason why we cannot sit in a room, socially distanced, with masks, at a Zoom meeting with the [Division] of Highways,” Price said.

County Administrator Kathy Mace said commissioners had requested she set up a meeting with the DOH then delayed it until this month.

 “I think it’s important that we get the right parties that you are requesting at the table,” Mace said. “It can be very complicated in you’ve got to get the bridge guy, the right-of-way guy, so we want to make sure that we stay focused.”    

Earlier, the commission asked her to send correspondence to the DOH for an update on its plans to address “reclaimed” roads. Those questions haven’t been answered yet. 

Commissioners also:

  • approved new Prosecuting Attorney Jay Shay’s request to maintain the retiring prosecutor’s staff and to name Ann Armstrong chief assistant prosecutor with no change in pay.
  •  He also asked to hire his former law partner, Aaron Yoho, as an assistant prosecutor, replacing Savannah Wilkins, who left the Preston office after being elected Tucker County prosecutor.
  • Yoho will be paid Wilkins’ former annual salary of $71,200. 
  • were told by Mace  another masonry problem was   discovered at the  Court Street side of the courthouse. The entrance is closed, and she is talking with a contractor, she said.
  • learned  an  update to the county litter ordinance, proposed by the county Cleanup Committee, was   sent to the prosecutor for review.

TWEET @DominionPostWV