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Contractor picked for Coonskin cleanup

Kenny Kemp
Kanawha County Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson surveys damage to Coonskin Park caused by the summer's derecho storm. County parks officials voted to hire a contractor Wednesday to clean up the upper portion of the 900-acre park, which has been closed since late June.
Kenny Kemp Hundreds of trees were torn down or uprooted by the storm.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County parks officials have picked a contractor to clean up damage to Coonskin Park caused by massive summer storms.

The huge derecho storm system that tore through West Virginia and surrounding states on June 29 devastated Coonskin Park, uprooting and smashing hundreds of trees in the upper part of the 900-acre park.

The upper part of Coonskin has been closed ever since, and parks officials still don't know the complete extent of the damage.

"The woods are still full of that stuff," said Kanawha County Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson.

Members of the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission approved a contract at a regular meeting Wednesday to hire a local firm to clean up the park.

Hutchinson said four bids were received for the cleanup work, ranging from about $58,000 to about $181,000. Officials for the Federal Emergency Management Agency have agreed to pay the costs of the cleanup, and have set aside $178,000 for the project.

"The money's already been allocated," Hutchinson said. "We just need to get the project underway and bill for it."

Park officials voted Wednesday to hire Elk Well Services, of Charleston, to clear the trees and other storm debris from the park. The company specializes in clearing rights of way for gas lines, power lines and other utilities, Hutchinson said.

Elk Well Services was not the lowest bidder for the work, but Hutchinson said the lowest bidder works primarily removing trees from residential property.

Hutchinson said parks officials decided to go with Elk Well Services because the company regularly deals with removing large numbers of trees. "They have the equipment and know how to do what we need done," he said.

Parks officials hope that work can start within about 10 days. Cleanup is expected to take six to eight weeks.

Hutchinson said the contract is contingent on Elk Well Services being able to start work quickly and on whether the company has bonding information and other important documentation in order.

"We need to jump in and get this done," Hutchinson said.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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