Clarksburg parking lot has citizens up in arms
by Paul Leakan
They huddled around the parking booth, some frowning,
some raising their arms, some cursing. All had the same complaint: How
am I supposed to pay?
The scene Wednesday afternoon has become all too
familiar for several motorists who park at the Ampco System Parking lots
on Washington Avenue in Clarksburg.
The parking lots, sold by the city in October for
$360,001, have been giving scores of motorists splitting headaches. A petition
has even been started to try to get the city to do something about it.
The owner and manager of the lots, however, believes
they have been working well and said he has not received any complaints
from the city.
The problem with the lots, according to several
motorists, is that they are confusing to use. Instead of handing their
money over to a parking attendant, motorists parking at the lots feed coins
into a computerized machine. Motorists punch in their designated parking
space number and drop money into the machines to park.
A yellow note, stamped on the machines, warns customers
in handwritten print to "please read instructions carefully."
In a 20-minute span Wednesday, four customers were confused about what
they were supposed to do and dropped in too much money.
Orvilla Smith, a Marshville resident, dreads using
the machines. "I have problems with that thing every time I park here,"
she said, shaking her head. "I hate it."
Dino Colombo, who owns a dental office at 222 Court
St. in downtown Clarksburg, has been rounding up signatures for a petition
to do something about improving the lots. Colombo said his customers are
"completely and utterly frustrated" about having to park there.
"I can't afford to keep losing people because of
the parking lots," he said. "The lots are driving people out of town. The
lots used to be filled when the city had it. How come it's not filled now?"
John P. Coyne, a Cleveland, Ohio, resident who manages
and owns the lots, disagrees. Coyne said the lots have been used well since
they opened in mid-December.
Coyne also said the lot does have a full-time employee
who works out of her car to help customers at the lot. Some motorists,
however, complained Wednesday that they didn't see anyone there to provide
Even so, plans are being made to construct a booth
for the parking attendant to answer any questions or clear any confusion
about how to use the machines, Coyne said.
And Clarksburg city officials, who have been getting
dozens of complaints about the lots, said they will do what they can to
review the operations of the lots. "We're dissatisfied, too," said Councilman
When the lots were sold, the city failed to make
an official agreement with Coyne as to what improvements would be made
to the lots in the future, said Councilwoman Kathryn Folio.
The city wanted the new owner to install more parking
spaces or add a new parking deck. Coyne said he likely will put in a deck,
depending upon the effect the federal building and the Fairmont State College-Clarksburg
Center has on the use of the lot. Coyne plans to be in Clarksburg on Monday.
"If people are having problems, then that's one of the things I'll look
PSC sides with Bridgeport in sewer dispute
by Torie Knight
An attorney for a state agency that oversees utilities
has recommended that a complaint filed by the Greater Harrison Public Service
District against the Bridgeport Sanitary Board over providing sewer to
a new subdivision be dropped.
The two sides met in January before Public Service
Administrative Law Judge Ronnie McCann to argue over which agency should
provide sewer service to Worthington Estates. McCann has not made a final
Cassius H. Toon, a PSC staff attorney, recommended this month that
the complaint be dismissed.
"The district would merely be laying a sewage collection
system to deliver to the city's existing mains for treatment by the city,"
said Toon. "This would, in effect, be placing another utility between the
city and the normal extension of its facilities."
Bridgeport officials want to extend the city's sewer lines by 8.4 feet
and provide the service. Greater Harrison would have to extend its lines
more than 2 miles and would then have to have the sewage pumped into Bridgeport's
In 1975, the PSC gave Bridgeport authority to serve
sewage customers up to 20 miles outside the corporate limits, as long as
service was not expanded into an area where a public service district had
The area in debate, Worthington Estates and the Hall Valley Estates
Inc. property, are within 20 miles of the city and adjoin city limits on
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Timms said he is happy with
the recommendation. Richard Hudkins, general manager of the Greater Harrison
Public Service District, was not aware of the attorney's recommendation
Harrison County Commissioner Beth Taylor, who spoke
during the hearing on behalf of Greater Harrison, was not pleased with
"This decision constitutes a dangerous precedent
which will hurt the progress of public service districts intending to promote
the extension of public utilities into the outlying areas of the counties
which have been neglected for far too long," Taylor said Wednesday.
She said the broader issue is annexation. Bridgeport
uses sewer line extensions as an annexation method, she said.
Bridgeport City Engineer and Public Works Director Dan Ferrell said
the city never uses sewer service to entice county residents into the city
The Harrison County Commission formed the Greater
Harrison Public Service District in August 1997 to consolidate smaller
public service districts. In this case, Taylor argued that any customers
to be served outside the corporate limits of a municipality must be served
by the Greater Harrison Public Service District in a service territory
Hey, kids: Enjoy time off from school now, summer could
be a little shorter
by Gail Marsh
Students in Harrison County will still get a spring
break, but there will be other changes to the school calendar because of
the number of days students have missed due to snow, officials said Wednesday.
"We've had three snow days recently, which makes
a total of five for the year. We're in the process of looking at ways to
make up several of those days in the confines of the current calendar,"
said Robert E. Kittle, Harrison County school superintendent.
Any revisions to the county school calendar must
first be approved by the local school board and the state Board of Education
before those changes can be put in place, Kittle said. "I've not yet talked
with the board about the changes, but we expect to have a plan approved
by the end of next week," he said.
School districts are required to offer 180 instructional
days each year, and are allowed two days off before any days have to be
made up. After missing those two days, any non-instructional days
left in the calendar must become instructional days for the students, the
The revised plan will allow spring break to remain
on schedule, with the last day of classes set for Thursday, April 1. Classes
will resume on Monday, April 12.
The plan instead calls for April 22, originally
scheduled for a faculty senate day, and June 9, originally set for a staff
development day, to become instructional days for which students will be
required to attend.
The April 22 faculty senate day will be moved to
April 2, originally scheduled for an outside school environment day when
no students or staff report.
Kittle said his office would like to hold the faculty
senate day at some other time because so many faculty and staff need that
day off for holiday travel.
"So many of our people have scheduled that day for
travel and we are trying to preserve that for them. But if nothing can
be worked out, we'll be in session on the 2nd," he said.
Faculty senate days give teachers time to do such
things as discuss a student's progress, work on a unified school improvement
plan, meet with administrators or take part in technology training.
"The faculty senate days are important to us because
they have a tremendous impact on our instruction program. So many things
need to be accomplished on those days," he said.