FAVORITE 2014 STORY: CALHOUN POOP-GATE - Hur Pollution Disaster Threatens Backwoods Environment, Calhoun Chronicle Breaks Story, NRP Take Immediate Action, Can You Still Poop In The Woods?

(12/31/2014)

The Calhoun Chronicle has selected charges against Calhoun Commissioner Bob Weaver as a top 2014 news story.

By Bob Weaver 3/18/2014

In the Village of Hur, we have had a laborious debacle over trying to correct a collapsing septic system, a debacle that I would not wish on any Calhoun citizen who might try to do such.

My family refers to the on-going problem as "poop-gate."

Natural Resource Police officer Charles Stephens upheld the letter of the law in finding me non-compliant, after I discovered an aging leech-bed had collapsed and tried to correct the problem, while discovering that the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department sanitarian was months behind in approving septic systems.

The levied fines for poop-gate $830.50.

I am the first person of record in over ten years to be cited for such a problem that I could find.

That should tell you something.

While perplexed to fix the problem, I installed a septic tank, requiring it to be emptied by a company, frequently injecting Clorox, and further remaining stuck with problems of an installer getting a permit.

After months, permits were delayed and denied, but was finally issued and the installer is now commencing the project.

My great-grandfather Jim Riggs did not embrace modern conveniences when he needed to relieve himself, in his case it was the "modern" outhouse. Jim died in 1940 at the age of 90, preferring going outback and using a rail fence to do his business.

Jim likely developed an attitude toward being told what to do when Civil War soldiers took his parents gun. He was about 12.

Which has led me to consider a burning question. Can you still poop in the woods?

In answering a public information request, the WV-DNR responded, "If this was a single incident then they wouldn't' be breaking any law. However, if it was occurring numerous times by the same individual then yes, NRP could enforce the laws against this."

So, going to the woods twice could be a problem, ruling out my handiest option.

Unfortunately, the sixteen deer in my meadow can't be cited, but I plan to give them a talking-to.

Today, we have lots of laws and rules about the disposition of human excrement to protect public health and the environment.

Those laws and rules are discriminatory applied toward "ordinary people" as opposed to the extractors of the state's natural resources and chemical industries, who have long played a cat and mouse game with regulators, polluting streams with overfill, sludge, toxic chemicals and the air particulates that adversely affect the public's health.

It is paradoxical when individuals violate environmental laws, they get taken to court and pay their fine.

Few industries have faced criminal charges, including the recent toxic spill by Freedom Industries that tainted the water of 300,000 customers.

Massey Coal, at one point in time amassed fines over $2 billion dollars, which they ignored but eventually settled by paying a few million dollars.

Stephens is a dutiful law enforcement officer, who in 2013 often made as many traffic stops for general violations than the West Virginia State Police and proactively participates in general police work, exercising his legal authority extended to natural resource officers in West Virginia, apparently with the approval of his superiors.

He has however avoided detecting the egregious and direct spillage of sewage in local streams.

Former DNR officer John Apgar was dutiful in catching bad guys, from burning boards with paint to littering, charging a woman who threw a Kleenex down after urinating along the highway.

See   SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Kleenex Caper, Painted Boards And Dirty License Plates

Apgar said he spent 96 officer hours investigating the illegal dumping of trash into a dumpster, including "all-night surveillance's, picture taking, and collection of evidence from the dumpster."

Pleasant Hill resident Ralph Cunningham was among those being charged, saying "Boxes from my business were sent to CRI for a food drive, but they somehow got filled with trash. Then I got charged."

"I didn't know about my 'wrongdoing' until I read my name on the Magistrate's Report on the Hur Herald," Cunningham said.

Apgar often used compounded charges to get his culprit, a method also used by NRP Charles Stevens. A review of recent hunting violations shows Stephens issued up to 10 or more charges in a single deer hunting incident, in one case where no deer was found.

The poop-gate crime made front page headlines in the Calhoun Chronicle, a paper that rarely reports serious crimes in the county.

Go figure, again.

Incidentally, the violations have been reported on the Hur Herald.

Maybe part of the poop-gate crime could well be that I have genes lurking from my great-grandfather Riggs, who didn't want to be told where he could poop.

Postscript: Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department CEO Dick Wittburg was replaced this year, reportedly after problems mounted with the agency.


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