Mayor cleans up dump site
Passersby may have noticed the large hill of dirt piled up on the lot at the north end of town. Mayor Susan Webster and her husband Peter Moss own the lot which sits across U.S. 522 from the American Legion.
Last May, Webster was cited with a notice of violation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for filling in about a half acre of wetlands. The Corps was informed of the fill by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
The wetlands in question extend from a drainage pipe under U.S. 522 across the north end of the lot to Warm Springs Run. The area is lined with cattails.
The Corps asked for removal of the dirt and material used to fill in the land. The notice specified the fill be removed 80 ft. from the edge.
Webster and Moss recently hired Skeeter Michael Excavating to do the work.
Scott Hans, the Army Corps Chief Regulatory Officer for the Pittsburgh District has inspected the lot and according to Webster is happy with the work. A letter to that effect will be forthcoming, Webster said.
No good deed . . .
How the fill got dumped on the lot in the first place falls under the category of no good deed goes unpunished, Webster said.
During the water line replacement project that ended last summer, contractor Cowgirl Up needed a spot to dump dirt and material left over from digging up the streets to install new pipe.
According to Webster, she told the contractor he could dump the material on the lot as long as all applicable permits were obtained. The idea, Webster said, was to save the town the cost of hauling the material away.
Once the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided the material was dumped too close to the wetlands, a dispute developed over whose responsibility it was to remove the dumped material.
Both the town, and Webster and Moss, incurred several thousands of dollars of legal expenses.
It was reported in the Morgan Messenger in February the town paid Attorney Richard Gay $2,017 to research the town's legal responsibility.
Webster said she has paid about $5,000 in legal fees and $8,000 to have the lot excavated. She believes Cowgirl Up shares some of that responsibility.
But Cowgirl Up has not responded to any of her letters, Webster said.
Cowgirl Up has already been paid to seed and mulch the slope dividing the lot from the wetlands as part of the contract for the water line project.
Asked what would be done with the large pile of dirt on the lot, Webster said she would consider her options once she received the letter approving the work from the Corps of Engineers.
One option she mentioned was selling the dirt for fill.