Fire’s ruins to be demolished

ELKINS – The ruins of the former Runner Funeral Home are scheduled to be demolished on Jan. 29, officials said at Thursday’s Elkins City Council meeting.

The structure, at 121 Davis St., has been an eyesore and a public health hazard since it was ravaged by fire on Nov. 11, 2013. City officials have worked for months to try to determine who legally owns the building, as several parties were involved in a disagreement over the property.

On Thursday, Elkins Fire Chief Tom Meader said the rightful owner, Barbara Zickefoose, has signed a contract with a company to remove asbestos from the building and then raze it.

“I’d also like to point out it’s not going to cost the city a dime,” Mayor Van Broughton said.

“I’m so glad it’s coming down,” said Meader, who voiced his safety fears regarding the structure at previous City Council meetings.

Meader has said the building was empty for about three years prior to the blaze. The wooden structure is more than 100 years old, and also previously served as the former Elkins United Brethren Church.

Also at Thursday’s City Council meeting:

  • Lt. S.D. Richards said the policy City Council put into place in December to help retain police officers is already paying dividends.

The policy requires new Elkins City Police officers to sign an agreement saying that, if the officer leaves the city’s employ within a year’s time after being hired, he or she must reimburse the city for costs incurred in sending the officer through a law enforcement training academy.

On Thursday, Richards said one of the three new officers the city sent to the Charleston Police Academy on Jan. 6 quit while at the school.

“Thanks to the foresight of City Council,” Richards said, the former officer, Justin Thorne, now owes the city $1,944, and has one year to pay it back.

Richards also reported year-end statistics for his department. Arrests were down by 130 in 2013 from the previous year; case calls were down by 455, traffic citations down by 72 and accidents down by two, he said.

He said a lack of manpower led to the decreased numbers. In 2012, the department averaged 12 officers working throughout the year; in 2013, however, there was an average of 8.5 officers working.

Richards said the earliest he will be able send another officer to the Academy is April 20.