Durbin Resident Unsuccessfully Petitions For Dissolution Of The Town

Marlinton, WV – Durbin resident Kenny Lehman presented a petition signed by 63 residents of the northern Pocahontas County town to formally dissolve the town charter at the Pocahontas County Commission meeting Tuesday night. Commissioner Martin Saffer recused himself from the discussion as he represents the Town of Durbin. Lehman lists his reasons for this action, starting with the low voter turnout in the most recent election.

“There was only 19 votes; that’s according to the canvas, the most any person got was 15 votes” says Lehman. “You have three councilmen from one family living in one household. You have one councilman who was forced to resign because of Malfeasance of Office, and he pled guilty to a misdemeanor. It’s just not what’s best for Durbin.”

Lehman is currently locked in a dispute with the Town over a fence around his house that the town says infringes on town property. But Lehman denies that dispute is related to his petition.

“What you may hear is that it being a grudge; it has nothing to do with being a grudge” he says. “These sixty three signatures all said the same thing, they don’t want them on Council; they don’t want them representing us in town government.”

“How do you see that dissolving the town will improve things for Durbin?” asks Commission President David Fleming.

“I can’t see where having a town government helps” says Lehman.

Attorney Jeffrey Triplett represents the town council in this case. He says the 105 year old town provides a variety of services to the residents including garbage disposal, and water and sewer services. But because the water and sewer services are old and in need of extensive repairs, the town has recently incurred a large debt load in terms of loans to make the needed repairs. In fact, due to these and other debts, he says the town owes over $93,000.00 to various creditors.

Triplett also says the most recent election notwithstanding the town has had an active voter turnout in previous elections. He says given these two considerations, the town by state code, can’t be dissolved, and offered his own petition, signed by 90 town residents opposed to dissolution. John Osborne, a resident of Durbin but not native to Pocahontas, offers another viewpoint.

“If you guys have looked at the current census in 2010, we’ve dropped 4.5 percent [in the county population]” he says. “As someone from elsewhere, if I look and I see that everything is closing down, I’m not going to want to move here. Do you want to continue to lose [population]? And that’s what’s going to happen.”

Commission President David Fleming declined to take any action on the town dissolution request, saying he believes the town is functioning as it should. Commissioner Jamie Walker agrees, and urges others to take a stand.

“You know one thing that kinda bothers me, if there’s so many people in the town of Durbin that’s against the way it’s being run, you should run yourself” he says. “That’s why I’m where I am right now; nobody wants to do nothing [sic], they just want to complain about it.”

Commissioner Fleming made a motion to reaffirm Durbin’s status as an incorporated town. The motion passed unanimously.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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