Barking dog takes bite out of crime in Barbour Co.
by Torie Knight
staff writer

    PHILIPPI — Police responded to a dog complaint at a home on South Walnut Street Saturday and discovered more than $25,000 in marijuana, heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine just openly lying around the house, leading to one the largest drug busts in at least four years in Barbour County.
    Neighbors of Wendell Beverly, 36, complained to police that  he left his dog running loose. Philippi Patrolman Lemuel Jones responded to the scene and was invited into the house.
    Once inside, Jones said he saw packages of drugs, a homemade bong, a gas mask, assorted pipes and other drug paraphernalia. “I think I just caught him off guard,’’ Jones said. “You’ve heard of luck before.’’ Beverly also had drugs on him and had a warrant out for his arrest for failure to appear in court, Jones said.
    Philippi Police Chief Tom Hartley said Beverly cooperated, allowing police to further search his home. Philippi officers, deputies from the Barbour County Sheriff’s Department, the West Virginia State Police and the Barbour County Reserve Unit conducted the search, at times using drug sniffing dogs.
    Hartley said police discovered straws, packaging boxes, plastic lunch bags — all full of more drugs. A briefcase contained pictures of money bundles, but the actual money wasn’t found in the house, Hartley said.
    Police charged Beverly with felony possession of a controlled substance. He was in a detoxification center in Morgantown for an evaluation on Monday. Further charges may be pending, Jones said.
    As for the dog, it wasn’t even Beverly’s. He was only  dog-sitting. Hartley said the dog’s owner picked up the animal.



Sisters hope to turn old church into a museum
by Torie Knight
staff writer

    CENTURY — Broken stained glass windows. Missing statues. Pews covered with drywall shavings and cobwebs. A podium with a large hole. Decaying concrete steps. A leaky roof.
I    t is far from the childhood memories Nancy Street and Joan True-Smith have of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in  Century.
    Smith was baptized in the church. She had her first communion there, her confirmation and her sacraments. She celebrated when one of her older sisters married inside those battered, white walls.
    She later wept at  the funeral services for her aunt Mary Harris, who always sat on the left, back pew. That’s why she is taking the deterioration of the building personally. “It makes you very sad,” Smith said. “It breaks my heart to see the devastation.”
    Smith came back from Cleveland, Ohio, Monday to present Street — her sister and president of the Century Progressive Development Association — with a $1,000 check to begin renovations to the church. The association plans to restore the turn-of-the century church and turn it into a museum.
    The sanctuary will house items from the Catholic faith while the basement will be used as a museum for Century’s coal industry history.  Coal miners built the church in 1902. The church closed Dec. 4, 1996. Plans were to demolish the building the next year. Street and Smith couldn’t imagine that. Street also had a personal connection.  Two of her grandchildren were the last to be baptized at the church. “It’s real personal,” Street said.
    The city of Philippi agreed to help the town of Century, located near the Barbour and Upshur county line off U.S. 119, repair the church.  The Diocese of Wheeling gave the building to the city of Philippi to restore.
    Philippi City Manager Joe Mattaliano said the city has the materials, but still needs about $10,000 to pay for labor costs. Mattaliano said offering city resources outside of city limits is part of the council’s comprehensive plan for the city to help improve relations in the county.
    The first step is a new roof. After that, Mattaliano said the association members will depend mostly on volunteer labor.
The association also is working to get the church on the register of historic places.
    If that is accomplished, the group may be eligible for restoration grants. Smith said it isn’t a complete loss yet. The altar still stands. A few fake pink and white flowers, a picture of Mary and some crosses add a touch of hope to the mildewed and corroded sanctuary. “You can still see there is beauty here,” she said.



Big party in works for New Year 2000
by Paul Leakan
Staff writer

    No, Dick Clark is not planning to usher in the new year in Clarksburg. And neither is Ed McMahon, for that matter.
But before the clock strikes the big 2-0-0-0, there could be one big celebration in downtown Clarksburg.
    The Clarksburg Millennium Committee, which is made up of city residents, has begun planning activities to celebrate the upcoming new year.
    The committee is planning for a big party downtown, citizens’ awards, seminars to educate residents about issues that they will face in the coming new year and a reflection of Clarksburg’s history during the last 100 years.
    Committee members brainstormed Monday to come up with events, entertainment, refreshments and ways to honor the past 100 years.
    Curtis Marozzi, chairman of the New Year’s Eve Celebration Committee, said the committee will seek to attract both the young and old for the party downtown. “Even if kids don’t come out, I want to have a family-like atmosphere,” Marozzi said.
    The committee is searching for entertainment and corporate sponsors, such as restaurants, to help fund the event. The committee currently does not have a budget or any money appropriated to put the event together.
Some ideas shared Monday:
-A parade, complete with high school bands, to kick off the event.
-Entertainment featuring local bands on stage at the Harrison County Courthouse.
-Having local restaurants and businesses to stay open later that night.
-Activities for the youth.
    Members said they do not want to encourage any disorderly  behavior from residents who may have overindulged in alcohol. “We want to have a party,” said  Trevor Fluharty. “But a party can be interpreted in many ways.”
    Aside from the celebration, some committee members plan on putting together a history of Clarksburg and its people in the last 100 years. The history may be put together in book form.
    The city would like for some of the plans to begin by July 1, said City Manager Percy Ashcraft. “We feel like we are responsible to make people prepared when that turn of the century comes,” Ashcraft said.
    Some committee members are already counting down to the  big day. “Well,” said Harry Berman, “we’ve got 270 days.”
The committee will meet again on May 3 at 6 p.m. in the Municipal Building.



Clarksburg building still open despite violations
by Paul Leakan
Staff writer

    The Waldo Complex in Clarksburg remains open despite more than two dozen fire code violations that were discovered nearly a year ago.
    State Fire Marshal Walter Smittle has said the building is unsafe for renters. But, he does not know whether his office’s attorney has sent in a petition to the Harrison County Circuit Court that could force the owners of the building to either repair 30 fire code violations or close the building.
    The attorney has been ill and was busy representing other state agencies in litigation during the past few months, Smittle  said.
    There have not been any cases filed in Harrison County Circuit Court that involve the state fire marshal and the Waldo Complex, according to the circuit clerk’s office.
    The state Fire Marshal’s Office has not set a time frame or deadline as to when the petition must be sent, Smittle said.
But Smittle believes that regardless of whether the petition has been sent or not, the situation should not be misconstrued as a sign that the building is safe to live in. “If it wasn’t dangerous I wouldn’t have issued the order” he said.
    Smittle said that people still living in the building should start looking for another place to live as soon as they can.
Smittle issued an order to either repair the fire code violations or shut the building down in June 1998.
    David and Suzanne Arnett, owners of the building, had appealed the order after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May.
The Arnetts, who have been unable to be reached for comment for months, pulled their appeal in November.
    Among the violations in the building are a lack of electric hard-wired smoke detectors in each apartment and an absence of an automatic sprinkler system or heat detector, according to the fire marshal’s order.
    Bert Dibish, a former Waldo resident who moved out just before Christmas, was told recently that there are only about seven apartments still occupied.
    A tenant who wanted to remain anonymous said there were probably only about five tenants still living in the building.
There were about 27 tenants  living in the hotel-turned-apartment complex in August. Several residents cleared out their apartments and sold used furniture, clothing, mattresses and toys on the first floor in November.
    If the Harrison County Circuit Court chooses to close the building, all remaining tenants would have to leave, all doors would be locked and any broken windows would be boarded up, Smittle said.
    The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been appraised at $603,000. It was built from 1901 to 1904 and opened as a hotel. The Arnetts used the building as collateral for a $700,000 loan from Bank One.
    Bank One will not do anything with the Waldo until the Harrison County Circuit Court receives the petition and makes a decision on the building’s future,  said Neil Cotiaux, Bank One public affairs manager.
    “Right now, we continue to be a by-stander,” Cotiaux said. “Basically, we need to see how this plays out between the Arnetts and fire marshal’s office.”



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