WINFIELD — Commissioners in Putnam County are exploring the possibility of creating a county-wide ATV ordinance, after some residents claim ATV riders are treating county subdivisions like “race tracks.”
County attorney Larry Frye told the commissioners Thursday that while there currently are statutes regarding ATVs, the law is “limited in its scope.”
The current laws only enforce three- and four-wheelers — and make no mention of dirt bikes or other two-wheeled ATVs, Frye said.
The other limitation is that the law does not extend to private property. Current laws only apply to roads, avenues and streets.
“Part of the problem with this is that the ATVs and motor bikes are being used in people’s backyards in subdivisions. The statute is not really designed to address that,” Frye said.
Kevin Cheshire, the president of the Forest Park Home Owners Association, said his neighborhood has recently banned ATVs within the subdivision.
However, he said the ban hasn’t stopped teenage riders from coming into the subdivision or riders who live in the neighborhood.
“What we have is a huge problem. There are some that drive through there like it’s a racetrack,” Cheshire told commissioners Thursday. “Not only is it an annoyance, but it’s a safety thing. I mean, they’re flying in there with no helmets, no lights. Somebody is going to get hit. Either someone is going to get hurt trying to avoid hitting one of these kids or somebody is going to smash a kid on the road.”
Cheshire said the ATV riders, usually between the ages of 14 and 17, will ride on the streets in the subdivision — causing high volumes of noise in the neighborhood.
Because of the high volumes of noise he and others in his subdivision are reporting, Cheshire urged the commissioners to look into county nuisance laws that could allow them to set limits on ATVs.
“If we call [the police], we get no response. Absolutely no response,” he said. “If I go out and play my guitar at 12 o’clock at night and crank it all the way up, I guarantee I’ll get arrested.”
Commissioner Ron Foster said he has been looking into the issues of ATVs in the county for two to three months.
Putnam County previously has explored the possibility of passing a noise ordinance but has turned it down.
“We’ve looked at all kinds of avenues,” Foster said. “I’m convinced. We’re going to find some way to do it.”
Commissioners took no action Thursday, but Foster said he plans to continue to explore the issue.
Also at the meeting Thursday, 10 county agencies were recognized for their efforts in responding to ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) heart attack calls. STEMI heart attacks are some of the most severe cases, during which one of the heart’s major arteries is blocked.
Cynthia Keeley, quality and system improvement director for the American Heart Association in West Virginia, recognized pre-hospital personnel in Putnam County for their quick response, education and high-functioning systems of STEMI care.
Only 627 other EMS agencies nationwide have been recognized for their efforts in 2017, and Putnam County is one of only 10 agencies in West Virginia to receive the same recognition in 2017.
Putnam County will be recognized nationally at American Heart Association trainings and other events, and in print materials and professional journals as well, she said.
“Today, we are celebrating lives saved because of the hard work of Putnam County EMS and other organizations,” she said.
In addition to Putnam County EMS, the Teays Valley Volunteer Fire Department, the Winfield Volunteer Fire Department, the Bancroft Volunteer Fire Department, the Buffalo Volunteer Fire Department, Route 34 Volunteer Fire Department, the Poca Community Volunteer Fire Department, Eleanor Volunteer Fire Department, the Winfield Police Department and the Hurricane Police Department were also recognized.
The next Putnam County Commission meeting will be held July 11 at 9 a.m.