Clarksburg residents discuss community issues with city council

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Clarksburg City Council met and discussed an abandoned structure that burnt on Milford Street just last week.

On Thursday, the council considered waiving competitive bidding and awarding an emergency demolition of the fire-damaged structure to Empire Builders for the amount of $19,000. The city hopes to have that structure demolished by the end of February.

Also, citizens asked to hold a special meeting with city officials after the regular meeting to talk about issues they have been experiencing with the abandoned structures.

“And we’ve fought with transients and homeless people, backpackers, quite a number of them, in both the structure that burnt, as well as the garage structure that is positioned behind it,” said Michael Wodnicki, a Milford Street resident of Clarksburg.

Council Member Lillie Junkins said that she feels that the citizens of the city have felt oppressed and unheard in the past. She said that is not the case anymore with a different council, a new city manager, a different code enforcement officer, a different chief of police, and a different director of public works, with all those working as a team to make a difference.

“I also feel like that it is important we are safe and that the citizens, the law-abiding citizens in Clarksburg, are heard and that we take the proper steps to keep them safe,” Junkins said.

City officials explained that they are willing to meet with and talk to any resident experiencing issues in their neighborhood and seek solutions to the issues.

“Everyone on council and involved in this cares and wants things to be better, and I think that, like I said in council comments, the hope for me is seeing that citizens are trying and talking, and coming to us, and revoicing their concerns that were maybe not heard earlier,” Junkins said. “It’s a two-prong thing. We have to work together; the citizens are as important as we are.”

Junkins stated that she does not believe that Clarksburg has as big of an issue with homelessness as the city does with addiction in the area. She added that there are many deeper-rooted issues that city officials are aware of but feel that it mostly stems from drug addiction.

“A lot of the reasons why people have been hesitant to say things here in the last few years is because they have felt unheard in the past. They felt like, like the gentleman said tonight, that they felt it fell on deaf ears and that nothing was being done, and they were just moving people along from one structure to the other,” said Junkins. “That’s not the case anymore; we have a different chief of police who has a nearly fully staffed police department. They are working diligently, this is not going to be changed overnight, but this is a whole different organization; it’s a whole different staff.”

Councilwoman Junkins said the city wants the citizens to be engaged, and they want them to come to council and contact them, and that they want to make a difference and care.

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