The Times West Virginian

October 18, 2013

Trees are ‘just waiting to fall’ along local roads

With trimming alone, problem comes again

By John Veasey
Times West Virginian

GRANT TOWN — Danny Barth says Marion County has a real problem.

And when he read that another man was trying to get legislation passed to help correct the problem, he wanted to make his voice heard as well.

Barth read in Saturday’s newspaper that Chris Southers was attempting to get a bill passed about the trees falling in the county. His mother had been killed by a falling tree.

“I’ve been fighting with the Legislature for eight or nine years on that subject,” Barth said. “That’s been since Melissa Sickles was killed on Jamison Road (near Farmington) when a tree fell on her car.

“The power company was trimming trees along that road. Several cars were motioned through. Hers was the third car. A tree fell on her car, and she was killed.

“I know what this young man is going through to get something done.”

Barth said the Divisions of Highways is limited as to what it can do.

“The power company trims them but leaves trees there that are dying. These dead trees eventually fall over.”

But Barth’s problems escalated earlier this month when the top half of a tree fell over the power, cable and telephone lines in Fairview.

Members of the Fairview Volunteer Fire Department trimmed the tree so traffic could get by.

“Then the tree started cracking and the power lines began to pull out from the side of the house,” Barth said.

”So that was when the fire department decided we weren’t going to let anyone else through there. The tree was hanging out over the highway.”

He said the road workers didn’t have the necessary equipment to cut the tree back, so the power company had to send to Taylor County to get available crew to come and cut the tree.

“This was at 12:20. The crew didn’t get there to cut the tree until 3 p.m. School kids were getting out then. Kids coming from North Marion.”

Barth said the board of education helped get a solution by clearing a path around the residence, the tree and the pole so no one was in danger. The road workers helped also. By 5:30, the tree was finally removed.

“Standing beside this tree, there are four or five others there that were in just as bad shape. They are just accidents that are waiting to happen. And the bad thing is there is no other way out of Fairview going to Fairmont if that road is blocked,” he said.

Barth said he had spoken to a couple of legislators again about the subject on several occasions.

“Our legislators don’t seem to think they can pass a law to alleviate this problem,”  Barth said. “I don’t know whether they are afraid of making someone mad or what.

“These problems could be eliminated if the trees could be cut down to the edge of the rights-of-way. I don’t have the facts and figures, but I believe the state road, the fire departments and the power company have spent a lot of money trying to take care of the problem.

“I’ve spoken to Joe Manchin when he was governor. He said he would look into it. After eight or nine years, the looking into should be over.

“Grant Town is not the only fire department concerned about this. You take 13 fire departments. I have no idea how much expense they have gone through with this same problem.

“Just travel the roads from Fairview to Barrackville or Fairview to Farmington. You can see all the trees just waiting to fall.

“If you just trim them, the problem will come again. Cut them clear down and you won’t have that problem.”

Email John Veasey at jcveasey@timeswv.com.