Couple relieved dilapidated property demolished in Elkins

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brooke Hinzman George and Delsey Kniley stand in front of the now vacant lot at 108 Orchard Street.

ELKINS — After voicing his concerns to City Council in February, Orchard Street resident and Vietnam veteran George Martin Kniley was relieved when the dilapidated property next to his home was finally torn down last week.

After stating that he had “no faith” that anything would be done about the structure at the Feb. 21 meeting, Kniley is “very, very pleased” that the twice-burned structure was taken care of by city officials.

“We haven’t been able to open the windows on that side of the house for seven years or more. It was depressing,” he said. “Last year, after the fire, we along with the house on the other side, had problems with bugs. Now that it’s down, we haven’t seen any.

“You wouldn’t believe how it is when you’ve lived with something like that for so long. I sympathize with anybody who does. Until the shoe is on your foot, you don’t know what that’s like.”

Both Kniley and his wife, Delsey, are thankful for the support they’ve received from community members throughout the process.

“There have been a lot of people who we didn’t know who’ve called and thanked us for going (to city council) and doing what we did at the time. One man even came and prayed with us,” Kniley said.

The couple is thankful to city officials and workers for the roles they played in the demolition but condemns the actions of Popcorn Properties LLC and its owner, attorney Rock Wilson, who caused major delays in the demolition — deeding the property back to its original owners without their knowledge.

City Attorney Gerri Roberts said the Wilson originally bought the property at a tax sale and got the deed in April 2018 and the building caught fire in July 2018. After the fire, the city contacted Popcorn Properties but the owner did not respond. Wilson had deeded the property back to the original owners without their knowledge.