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Mud causing problems near Poca school construction site

Lawrence Pierce
The city of Poca recently cleared the entrance to Laurel Avenue after residents tried to have the contractor take care of the excess mud and dirt on the road.
POCA, W.Va. -- Linda Jones has lived in her Poca subdivision off of Laurel Avenue for four years, and she and many of her neighbors have been experiencing the same problem since 2010 -- excess mud and dust clogging the lone entryway to their homes caused by construction of Poca Middle School."The city cleans the street because the contractor won't do anything about it," Jones said. "Any time there's mud or anything like that, the town has to do it."Jones added that the problem has worsened in recent months and said she believes the landscaping on the site has caused Laurel Avenue to flood more than it had prior to construction. Sara Lett, who moved into the neighborhood about the same time Jones did, said she and others who live off Laurel Avenue are becoming fed up with the amount of mud and dirt the project pushes into the road."The neighbors were just really tolerant, because we expected that with construction, and with this kind of job, there was going to be mud, pebbles and dirt. Everybody was really tolerant," Lett said. "Now we're coming into our third year, and it's getting worse."According to Lett, her family pays about $1,000 a year in taxes, and about $700 goes toward the county's school system, with $90 for the levy that subsidizes the construction of the middle school. Jones and Lett said they have contacted the Putnam County school board several times and have not seen progress in fixing the problem."We just want some answers from the school board. 'Do you plan on fixing this? Do you plan on enforcing the contractor to fix it, and if so, how?' That isn't too much to ask. We want some answers," Lett said.
Brad Hodges, assistant superintendent for administrative services for Putnam County Schools, said he believes the responsibility for clearing the site is the contractor's, but that the buck stops with the school system."It ultimately becomes Putnam County Schools' responsibility, but it's the contractor's job to keep mud off the road," Hodges said.Hodges said once the service road for the school is completed, the mud problem should go away, and that the contractor plans to start paving this week.According to Hodges, the construction plan for the school was approved by the proper regulatory agencies, and the school system has a yearlong warranty for work done that would allow it to correct any problems that might arise after the work is done."We would do anything we could to rectify a problem," he said.EP Leach & Sons Inc., the Huntington contractor working at the site, declined to comment.Reach Lydia Nuzum at or 304-348-5100.
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