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County Commission News: Gun Range Issue Raised

The Putnam County Commission hears, but does not act upon, items that are not listed on its meeting agendas. On Tuesday, September 14, the Commission heard a lot about what is happening, has happened, and, theoretically, could happen at Camp Appalachia in Scott Depot.

Residents of Barrington Drive, Teays Meadows and Fletcher Road expressed concerns about the Camp’s intention to construct a firing range approximately 0.8 miles from their homes.

Christa Boggess told the Commission that she learned of the gun range on Thursday (September 9) and initiated a flyer because she did not want a firing range near residences. Boggess said that she had heard reports of people going into the Camp in tactical gear and that the Camp would serve as a law enforcement training center. Boggess reported seeing a military helicopter hovering over the area on Monday (September 13). She informed the commissioners that Jared Davis of Camp Appalachia contacted her to discuss the gun range. Boggess stated that Davis told her that the Camp had all the permits. A check with the Planning Commission revealed that no permit had been issued to the Camp for a gun range.

“They have already cleared acres of ground. If this is not going to be large scale, why are they clearing so much ground? Why is it being done in secret? Why are they lying?” Boggess asked. “There needs to be some sort of investigation,” she added.

Steve Johnston of Teays Meadows advised the Commission that the property was zoned residential and that there must be better ways to support the Camp than construction of a gun range.

Adam Arthur expressed concerns that his property value may be adversely affected by the range.

Jared Davis of Camp Appalachia spoke in defense of the firing range and presented a statement of the goals, objectives, and mission of the proposed firing range. Davis said that while the goal is to eventually establish a firing range, the only activity in the proposed area is a logging operation. He said that he was advised that no permit would be needed if the Camp were to do it one acre at a time.

Davis said that the Black Hawk helicopter was part of a survivor skills instruction that was conducted by a Camp renter, the Charleston Montessori School. “I’ve never put in a gun range before. We are not trying to be secretive. It is very hard to hide if you are bringing in major equipment.”

Larry Frye who heads the Planning Commission in addition to his duties as County Attorney was asked if a gun range would be allowed in R-1 (residential). Frye said that specific details would be needed to determine the appropriateness.

During his presentation, Davis made it known that there will be a Battle Run event at the Camp on October 2nd which will involve smoke grenades, flash bangs and firing of blank rounds to simulate stress for race participants.

Jon Tincher asked the Commission if the Camp would be allowed to continue to move forward with what they are doing. Commissioner Ron Foster replied, “We have nothing in our possession which shows that they are doing work toward a gun range other than (this) conversation which we have had back and forth. We can’t restrict that for which there are no plans. The logging operation does not fall within our category.

In other business, Terry Martin asked the Commission for authorization to apply for funding for water service to all of Deerfield Estates through the WV Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council. Martin said that Deerfield will qualify for funding if the total cost is under one million dollars. Martin believes that the cost will be dangerously close to the million dollar limit. Martin said that funding is an all or nothing proposition. If inflation causes the bid total to exceed the limit, there will be zero funding. Martin stated that he is asking West Virginia American Water for updated dollar estimates.

The Commission rejected all bids for the construction of the Confidence 911 Tower construction. The lowest bid submissions included stipulations which did not reveal the true bid amount. The project will be rebid.

The next Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 30, at 5:30 p.m.

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