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Homeless camp concerns St. Albans residents

Garbage, papers and household items lay in the wooded area along railroad tracks in St. Albans. (WCHS/WVAH)

Some families in St. Albans are worried after discovering what seems to be a homeless encampment area near their home.

The encampment area is just down the street from St. Albans High School near the baseball field at the intersection of Wilson Avenue and Hudson Street along the railroad tracks.

Joey Darabos and his family live along the railroad tracks about two blocks away from the makeshift camp on Wilson Avenue. He said he sees people walking along the railroad tracks during all hours of the day and night. He now knows where they are going.

"I found blankets laying on the ground where they made a makeshift mattress, a chair with plastic on it, muffin pans and cookie sheets," Darabos said.

Darabos heard about the camp from another neighbor. On Saturday, he found no one there, but shot video on his cellphone. In the video, you can see garbage such as empty bottles, used feminine hygiene products, clothing, blankets and household items like a chair and cooking pans. He posted the video on social media but didn't inform the police. His most significant worry is the mess left behind.

Darabos is concerned as the camp is in the same area as his kids and other children ride their bikes.

"We keep a good track on our boys, but disease-wise, with the hepatitis A and everything else, that is what worries me," Darabos said. "Them seeing a needle or a tampon and them picking that up...The kids like riding their bikes down the hill and up the hill."

Darabos showed Eyewitness News the area while no one was there. It was littered with empty bottles, clothing and papers. Among the papers was someone's personal information.

"Savings bond," said Darabos while holding the paper in his hand. "They have somebody's savings bond information. A Daniel P. Scott Jr. has your social security number, your address and everything else on there."

Darabos said there was also a car title and bank information among the papers. The address listed was just a few blocks away.

Darabos tried calling the number listed on the documents, but it was disconnected. He planned to turn them over to the St. Albans Police Department.

Eyewitness News spoke with other neighbors in the area who didn't want to appear on camera or be identified. One elderly couple said they didn't know about the encampment area and that it concerns them especially since the high school students use that area to walk to school. Another homeowner said he has noticed fruit and vegetables from his garden already going missing and hears people late at night in the encampment area, but has not reported it to police.

"I'm just done with it," Darabos said. "St Albans is a good town and good city. We love living here, it's just something needs done."

St. Albans Mayor Scott James learned about the camp Saturday and said it falls on CSX Railroad property and the city has no jurisdiction. James said they must get permission from CSX to run people off the grounds. He added he can't get ahold of CSX on weekends but plans to alert them Monday and city crews will clean up the area. James said this is the first time this year that they are dealing with people sleeping and camping in the city limits. He said most of the homeless population has moved outside of the city limits.

St. Albans Police Chief Joe Crawford told Eyewitness News that his department was recently notified about the camp and are investigating. He said he will be contacting CSX Railroad Police Monday as well.

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