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by Paul Leakan
(Saturday, Aug. 15, 1998) It can often be seen on the corner of Broadway Avenue and East Main Street: small packs of children wandering aimlessly. Some call it a public nuisance. Some call it the result of no place to go.
Whatever you call it, loitering on public streets can often be an exercise in illegal activity, city officials and some residents believe.
Nancy Blackwell, who lives on Fowler Avenue in Broadway, said some of the people hanging out near Tuccillo's Pizza in Broadway, for instance, appear to be "looking for trouble."
The manager of Tuccillo's Pizza, who preferred to remain anonymous, agrees with Blackwell's assessment. Many children drop trash all over the street, and she said she's often had to chase them away from the area.
"It's an every-night thing, but they don't stay very long because we chase them off," she said.
The Clarksburg Police Department and city officials are well aware of the illegal activities associated with loitering. Hoping to give the police department more leverage, Clarksburg City Council may pass a new ordinance that would prohibit people from loitering in public areas if they appear to have the intent to engage in illegal activities.
"There's always been discussion about loitering," City Manager Percy Ashcraft said. "Quite frankly, a lot of it goes on at the courthouse. That place lends itself to have people congregate to sit, stand and talk. There's nothing wrong with that. But are they there to be there for a few minutes, or are they there to commit some crime?"
The ordinance is aimed at prohibiting people from loitering near parks, schools, liquor stores, outdoor pay telephones, abandoned buildings and other areas with the intent to engage in prostitution or to buy, sell, transfer or use illegal drugs.
As defined by the ordinance, loitering means to "delay, linger or idle about with an unlawful or illegitimate purpose."
If police have probable cause to believe people are loitering with illegal intent, they could request loiterers to leave the area. If the loiterers refuse to move on, they could receive up to a $250 fine. A second offense within one year may earn loiterers a fine of up to $500, or 12 days of community service.
The narrow scope of the ordinance may serve to protect it from being challenged in court, according to City Attorney John Farmer.
"Presently, loitering ordinances across the country have been struck down for being overly broad," Farmer said. "They can infringe on constitutional rights because they are so broad. There might be a bunch of people hanging out in front of the courthouse, and under a broad law that may be considered loitering. Because this ordinance is narrowly tailored, it would stand up to scrutiny in a circuit and an appellate court."
Council will consider the first reading of the loitering ordinance during its regular session on Aug. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building.
Until then, some people feel that children who loiter should simply be told politely to leave.
"Kids today are smart," said Curtis Edwards, co-owner and president of American Destinations Inc. "They just need to be told what's expected of them. They don't learn by osmosis; they have to be told by adults what proper behavior is."
by Torie McCloy
(Saturday, Aug. 15, 1998) BUCKHANNON -- David Waggy likes to buy. He doesn't like to sell.
He found it difficult to watch hundreds of strangers carting off his belongings from his three-stall garage sale in Buckhannon Friday.
"In an ideal world you could just acquire, not sell," Waggy said. "I don't like selling, but there comes a time when you have to."
Waggy said he knew he'd lose money on the sale, not make it. Many of his items were low-priced antiques. That's expected at yard sales, he said.
"The objective is not to make money, but to get room," he said.
Waggy doesn't plan on keeping the newly cleared space for long. He is a regular at auctions and estate sales.
"I enjoy buying," Waggy said, adding that he doesn't normally use the "stuff" he picks up at auctions. "I just keep it."
Picking out what to price and put up for grabs wasn't easy for Waggy, either. It also won't be easy to get anything back if he changes his mind. People from across the country and state were buying up goods.
Bob and Donna Drahler of Maiden, N.C., took a different route home from Canada after seeing a brochure about the more than 100 yard sales in Buckhannon Friday and today. They picked up a boxful of kitchen supplies to add to their Canadian souvenirs.
Justin Smith, executive director of the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce, said although only 100 people signed up to be on the yard sale map, more than 300 sales were set up throughout town and county. Smith, who came up with the idea to help attract attention to Upshur County, said it was working.
Buckhannon overflowed with yard sale lovers looking for a treasure Friday. Within about two hours, the chamber gave out 500 maps and had to head back to the print shop for more, he said. The maps helped shoppers plan their strategies.
"We never really thought it would be this big," Smith said. "Traffic is horrendous."
Heavy traffic was good news for hotels, restaurants and gas stations that had many lines. The chamber advertised all across the state and in surrounding welcome centers. Smith said the chamber plans to make the town yard sale an annual event.
"It's a way for everybody to come into town and visit Buckhannon, to meet the people one-on-one," Smith said.
Ten-year-old Quinn Craig enjoyed the yard sales. She and her brother, Preston, colored a lemonade sign and set up their own booth to take part in the money-making at 25 cents a cup.
"I just thought we would earn a little bit of money," Quinn said. "My dad said he would take us to the store tomorrow."
In about three hours, the pair had made $5.
and people still were coming. That was enough to make them smile.
Not all of the sellers cared about getting rid of their stuff. Unlike his brother, Bob Waggy was glad to see people walk away with the merchandise from the few tables he set up under a canopy across town. He made sure nothing was priced for more than $20.
"We price it to sell. We aren't taking anything back in the house," Waggy said. "And the last guy here gets a deal."