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Durbin council discusses possible jail restoration

At the Durbin Town Council meeting February 11, Pocahontas County Historic Landmarks Commission Vice President Jason Bauserman suggested a project to restore the town jailhouse.

The Landmarks Commission receives a portion of hotel/motel tax from the County Commission for use in restoring and maintaining historic landmarks in the county.

Bauserman said he was discussing projects with Landmarks Commission President Wayne Gillespie, who said most of the board’s money is used for projects in Marlinton and Hillsboro.

“I’ve been on that board for a year-and-a-half, everything, all of our hotel/motel tax we get pretty well is going down there,” Bauserman said. “I had never thought about it before, just about immediately, the jailhouse here popped into my mind. The jailhouses have been restored in Huntersville and Cass – why not Durbin? This could be an interesting project.”

The jail is a remnant of years past when Durbin was a booming lumber town with a bank, theater and hotel.

Council agreed with Bauserman that the project would be great for the town and county, which strives on keeping its history alive.

“You want to keep it historic,” Bauserman said. “I looked at it today and the cinder block. Those cinder blocks came out soon after World War II where they used coal sloe. I think it could be a project where the town really wouldn’t have to put any money in it.”

The jail is in decent condition and still has the metal door and bars from its heyday.

Bauserman also suggested the jail could be used as a small museum with tours and information available from the town’s archives.

“I’m still interested in these books back here that have a lot of local names, and the dates, and the fine and the crime they had,” he said. “Most of them drinking or not paying somebody. The fine was two dollars for this or that.”

Bauserman said he would pursue the project with the Landmarks Commission and keep the council up-to-date on the progress.

In other news:

• Council was approached by several town residents who have gone without water in their homes for the past two weeks. Paula Wood said she contacted the Public Service District (PSD) and was informed that nothing could be done until spring.

Wood asked council what she and her neighbors should do because they have been given the runaround.

Council suggested Wood contact the Public Service Commission (PSC) and Pocahontas County Commission to explain the situation and see if anyone can offer help.

See a separate story by Geoff Hamill on page two for more information on this issue.

• Council approved the first reading of two new ordinances – House Building Regulations and Safety Regulations Ordinance, and Stopping and Standing Ordinance.

Councilmember Danielle Findley explained that both ordinances were compilations of similar ordinances.

The first ordinance, addressing building and safety regulations is a more comprehensive document which includes building permits, a building code official and condemned property management.

“This document is a compilation of what existed,” Findley said. “It’s slightly more legal. We’re hoping that it will address all the things that we need to. The main thing that changed here is that the former amount to obtain a building permit was ten dollars. We increased that fee to fifteen dollars.”

The ordinance also gives council the ability to have more control of substandard housing and condemned buildings.

The Stopping and Standing ordinance outlines the regulations for parking in town and the consequences of leaving a vehicle idling or parked illegally.

“There is a fine of fifty dollars for parking at the Post Office in a prohibited area,” Findley explained. “For storage in streets and alleys, a fine of five dollars a day or up to one hundred dollars per offense will be enforced.”

Councilmember Mike Vance asked if town lawyer Martin Saffer reviewed the ordinances. Findley said council must approve the first reading before Saffer could see the documents. She said the ordinances will be given to Saffer for review before the second reading and subsequent adoption of the ordinances.

Durbin Town Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m., at the Town Office.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at

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