By Rachel Dove
WILLIAMSON - The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department has received a number of complaints concerning political campaign signs being placed alongside county roadways, over road signs and on utility poles, as well as on private property where permission was not granted by the owner.
To enlighten the public about state laws that govern the placement of these signs, Mingo County Chief Field Deputy Joe Smith has asked the Daily News to publish a copy of the statute that governs this subject. Smith also penned a letter that accompanies a copy of the statute that has been mailed to all candidates who have filed for office in the 2014 election.
West Virginia Code 17-19-1 reads as follows:
“No person shall paint, mark, post, tack, nail, or otherwise affix any sign, advertisement, notice, picture, drawing, emblem, poster, printing or writing, other than those placed and maintained in pursuance of law, on to any stone, rock, tree, fence, stump, post, pole, building, or other structure, which is in or upon the right-of-way of any public road or highway.
“These prohibitions include, but are not limited to, such devices which are intended to invite or draw attention of the provisions of this section shall constitute prima facie evidence that the person whose candidacy appears thereon violated this section. Provided, however; that the installation and/or maintenance of newspaper, postal or mailboxes shall not be prohibited or affected by this section.
“Any person violating this section, whether as a principal, agent or employee, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred dollars; and such person shall be deemed guilty of a separate offense for each day during any portion of which any violation of this section is committed or continued. Every such prohibited sign or other marking is hereby declared to be a public nuisance.
“Upon receiving notice of any violation of this section, the commissioner shall cause the prohibited sign or other marking to be removed within ten days and shall cause the appearance of the property on which it was affixed to be restored, as near as may be practicable, to its condition immediately before such violation occurred.
“The commission shall, in the name of the state, recover from the persons who hereafter violate this section the amounts expended by the state in removing the sign or other marking and in restoring the appearance of the property on which it was affixed.
“The commission is empowered to remove any such prohibited sign or other marking in place upon or over any road by him for construction or maintenance.
Further information on this matter, or complaints about improper placement of political signs, should be directed to the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department at 304-235-0330.