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Residents, county decry barge dock

Proposed barge docking in Westmoreland, W.

Sunday, September 02, 2001

Proposed barge docking in Westmoreland, W.Va., has drawn criticism from Burlington residents and the Lawrence County commissioners.

At Thursday’s meeting, Karen Burwell told commissioners that she and other residents oppose a fleeting facility that will store barges on almost a mile of riverfront directly across from Burlington.

In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, she wrote that the proposal threatens pristine views of riverfront, the use by Westmoreland residents of a beach and fishing area, and property values in the Burlington-Chesapeake area.

"There are very few areas that are not already packed with barges, so these residential and recreational areas need to be preserved along the river," she wrote.

Commissioners agreed that the fleeting facility could become unsightly, but also voiced concern about possible riverbank erosion.

"Building docks on the other side of the river sometimes diverts water and can wash out under houses," commission president Paul Herrell said.

The commission voted to send a letter to the Corps, stating that the county was not in favor of the project.

If it can be guaranteed there will be no erosion, the commission might reconsider, Herrell said.

According to the Corps of Engineers Public Notice No. 199600803-1 about the project – issued in July – W. Stanley James of Huntington, W.Va., proposes a barge fleeting facility of 12 mooring structures and four concrete deadmen.

The facility will fleet a maximum of 10 barges wide by five barges long in each of four areas, from river mile 312.4 to 313.2 along the Wayne County, W.Va., shore near Westmoreland.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District, can be reached at 502 Eighth St., Huntington, W.Va., 25701-2070.

Also on Thursday, commissioners:

– Heard from Joe Isaac of Ironton Physical Therapy about a transitional work program for county employees. No action was taken.

– Approved the hiring of three part-time employees to cover vacations, sick days and holidays at the 911 communications center. Hired part-time, without benefits, were James Woda, Jeff Gaskins and Mac Yates.

– Authorized the purchase of carpet for the 911 entrance and hallway.

– Approved the county’s annual litter control grant of about $56,000, administered by the Ironton-Lawrence County CAO.