EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSTHE WAR ON METH
from Eyewitness News Online
Kanawha County Fights Battle With Meth Epidemic
Reported by: Kristin Keeling
Videographer: Brad Rice
Web Producer: Kristin Keeling
Also Contributing: John Tincher, Brad Rice, Larry Clark
Reported: Nov. 14, 2012 6:48 AM EST
Updated: Nov. 14, 2012 10:06 AM EST
St. Albans , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Meth use is at its highest in West Virginia. More people are becoming hooked to the deadly drug. But they have only a few ways and places to get their fix, and some of those places may be too close for comfort.
Unlike other drugs smuggled in from foreign countries, methamphetamine can be easily made just about anywhere and in any neighborhood.
"You know, you see all the time where this happens in the best of neighborhoods," said Peggy Young of St. Albans. Peggy says she lived a quiet, humble life in St. Albans until her neighbors moved in. That's when she says things started to change. "There were just cars coming in and cars leaving all the time. And come to find out, there was a lot going on next door," she said.
Little did Peggy know, her neighbors' home was an active meth lab. "When they opened it up, it had been closed up for months. When they opened the side doors especially and the wind was blowing, it was un unGodly smell you would not believe."
The home was busted and boarded up and has since been cleaned, and is up for sale. Police say the alleged offenders were arrested.
But this is an all too common occurrence.
"Just since January 1st of 2012, the county commission has boarded up 24 homes or out buildings in the county," said Planning Director for the Kanawha County Commission, David Armstrong.
Armstrong says about nine years ago, the meth use in the county started to spike. The county now has an ordinance to condemn any structure where meth is made, until it's cleaned up.
"The county commission's take on this is if you don't clean up your structure, we're going to demolish it and make it safe for the community," he said.
According to Armstrong, from the time a meth lab is busted, it takes the commission up to one year to take care of the structure. "The homeowners or the property owners have an opportunity to bring the home back into compliance with state law and with the county ordinance. Or the county commission will seek a court order and we'll demolish the structure and place a lean on the property for the cost that's incurred by the county commission."
So who pays for the demolition? If you buy a building permit half of what you pay goes into the demolition fund. Armstrong says if those funds go low they will have to dip into the general fund.
But Peggy Young says it's worth it to clean up the neighborhood and keep it clean. "You never think about something like this happening and people doing these types of things. You just don't think about it happening," she said.
West Virginia now requires full disclosure for people who buy or rent a structure that used to contain a meth lab. That means the owner is required to tell you about the structure's history whether it be a home, hotel or motel.
Clean up starts at about $10,000 and requires a state licensed contractor for each meth house. Once clean, the property owner is issued a certificate stating that the building was properly cleaned.
There are still about 15 structures in Kanawha County that are in the legal process of being demolished.
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