Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 14, 2012

Pocahontas Company Store demolition sparks heated emotions

POCAHONTAS, Va. — Another symbol of the storied past of Pocahontas fell into a heap early Wednesday morning, touching off a battle between one of the community’s most ardent proponents of historic preservation and a town council eager to promote future development and protect the public.

“I’m angry about this,” Thomas B. Childress, treasurer and chairman of grants & properties of Historic Pocahontas Inc., said. “I was serving as the election officer for the primary election (Tuesday night) and I came over here to the Historic Pocahontas office before I went home and saw the crew arrive to tear down the front of the old Pocahontas Fuel Company Store.

“We have three agreements with the town,” Childress said. “I met with the mayor and vice mayor and said I had an appointment with John Shott (of the H.I. Shott Jr. Foundation) to talk with him about funding for the project. Now it’s down, laying on the ground. We had a pile of good lumber there that we could have used.”

Childress said that Vernon Presley was going to file an injunction on Historic Pocahontas’ behalf in Tazewell County circuit court seeking to block the town of Pocahontas from proceeding with its Downtown Revitalization Plan. Childress contends that the town did not follow through on recommendations made by Julie V. Langan, director of Resource Services and Review of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Childress claims that in a letter dated May 14, the DHR asked for several components to be completed before razing the store front.

Although Childress claims the requirements weren’t met, Pocahontas Mayor Jonathan Gibson said that events of this week called for the town to take immediate steps to prevent the building from falling when people were present.

“During the last two days, the top of the building started swaying,” Gibson said, adding that there hasn’t been much wind in the area. “We asked the architects with Hill Studios and some building inspectors from Bluefield, Va., to come and take a look at it, and the consensus was that the front of the building represented an immediate danger to the public and public safety supersedes everything in a matter like this.”

The building served as a store for more than 100 years, but the past 30 years have been difficult. The aging roof started leaking, compromising the structure and eventually, the last remaining tenants left and without heat inside, the deterioration accelerated. Eventually, the roof and walls collapsed, but Childress and other volunteers shored up the front of the structure and it remained that way until a little after midnight Wednesday morning.

“After we determined that it had to be done as a matter of public safety, we contacted the sheriff’s office and they recommended that we do the work after 11:30 p.m., Tuesday night at a time when a deputy could close off the street so nobody would get hurt,” Gibson said.

“The town is 100 percent behind the Downtown Revitalization Project,” Gibson said. “With the Spearhead Trail System coming here next year, we have to take steps to get ready for it. The work on saving the metal-front buildings Centre Street is coming along, and we have made repairs to the Exhibition Mine to get it ready for the season. This was just a matter of public safety.”

Childress said that he hopes to pursue a civil complaint against the town for breach of contract. “We’re going to tell everyone in the world,” Childress said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • U.S. shipping coal overseas

    July 28, 2014 1 Story

  • Firefighters worked scenario nearly identical to tunnel incident

    David Thompson Sr., chief of the Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department said on Sunday that regional emergency responders had met in Wytheville, Va., in June to discuss a emergency response that was similar to the real life emergency that occurred Friday afternoon in the northbound lanes of the East River Mountain Tunnel.

    July 28, 2014

  • Elite eight... Eight inducted into Tazewell High School Hall of Fame

    The Elite Eight were honored by the Tazewell High School Hall of Fame Saturday.
    Eight honorees — Glen Riddle, Charles Grindstaff, Whitney Davis, Carol Green Robertson, James “Robbie” Colley, Ralph “Moon” Mullins, James Farley and Don Necessary, Sr. — were inducted Saturday at THS in the seventh annual presentation coordinated by chairman Lawrence (Debo) Johnson. They join 50 previous honorees in the select group of former graduates, supporters and friends of THS as chosen by the HOF committee.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blue Jays Sunday Danville nips Bluefield in 12 innings

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Practice scenario nearly identical to real-life tunnel fire

    July 27, 2014

  • Crash... Two transported from Route 460 wreck

    Two people were transported to a Mercer County hospital following a two-vehicle wreck Sunday afternoon on U.S. Route 460 at the intersection with Willowbrook Road.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • PRINCETON POLICE DEPARTMENT July 17-23

    July 27, 2014

  • Active warrants in Tazewell County July 27 Active warrants in Tazewell County July 27

    The Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office is currently seeking the following individuals. Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of these individuals can call the sheriff’s office at 276-988-1167 or the Tazewell County 911 Center at  276-988-0902.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_4822.jpg All tunnel lanes open

    Traffic on Interstate 77 was still backed up about 14 miles in Bland County, Va., Saturday evening, but the Virginia Department of Transportation reported at about 6 p.m. that both northbound lanes of I-77 through East River Mountain were open to traffic.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 2 Slideshows

  • First on scene... Firefighters’ story: Working together put the fire out

    Lights in the southern end of the tunnel illuminate an odd design beside the catwalk near the left lane of the northbound tube of the East River Mountain Tunnel that transports I-77 from Virginia into West Virginia. Two firefighters who made the initial assault through the total darkness of the soot and smoke-filled tunnel left those marks as they slid their arms along the catwalk wall on their journey back to the light.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

National and World
Newspaper Deivery Routes Available
Sister Newspapers' News
Facebook
Local News Videos