MORGANTOWN -- Monongalia County is on a mission to clean up Morgantown, even if it means taking the home or land from its owner.

In pursuit of this mission, it has found another property worthy of its attention.

The Monongalia County Commission claims sister Shirley Stieringer and brother John W. Hunnell are neglecting a piece of land located in the Battelle District of Monongalia County. They are also holding Joseph C. Bartolo, Monongalia County sheriff and treasurer, accountable.

In a suit filed on Jan. 18, the Commission claims Stieringer and Hunnell inherited the land from their father, who died in 1990.

Since then, they have trouble with the Commission several times. The most notable was in 2002 when both were notified they had 60 days to improve the property or risk losing it. It seems they repaired the property, and without any prosecution, were left alone.

The Dilapidated Property Enforcement Agency was brought back in 2005 because of "repair, alteration, improvement, vacating, closing, removal, demolition" of the property. Then the home was declared unsanitary, and the DPEA stated that without removal of "refuse, debris, overgrown vegetation, toxic spills and toxic seepage," the property would be taken.

Filed by Phillip M. Magro, assistant prosecuting attorney for Monongalia County, the suit also remarks that since 2005, Stieringer and Hunnell have been charged $9,200 in fines, or $100 per day the property remains in this condition.

Using West Virginia Code, Chapter 7, Article 1, Section 3ff, Magro and the Commission are seeking damages in the form of a daily civil monetary penalty, attorney's fees, court costs, and the possibility of the repair and sale of the home.

They are also seeking for Magro to become a special commissioner to oversee the repairs.

Monongalia County Circuit Court case number: 06-C-43

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