WILLIAMSON – The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department has received recent complaints concerning political signs being placed along road ways, on road signs, and on utility poles.
Chief Field Deputy Joe Smith explained that he does not feel that it is the candidates placing the signs in inappropriate places. “I feel that it is the supporters of the candidates that do not know that there are laws in place concerning where signs may be placed,” Smith explained.
Smith also states that the Sheriff’s Department has received calls from utility departments concerning signs being placed on utility poles. “It is a safety issue for those that have to access or climb these poles,” Smith stated.
The Sheriff’s Department also encourages those placing signs to ask permission before placing a sign in a resident’s yard. “We have had calls from people that have woken up to signs in their yard that have not been approved to be there,” Smith explained.
One candidate has also complained that his campaign signs have been removed from property where he received permission to place them and he thinks they were thrown away by workers of opposing candidates.
In a letter sent to all political candidates on March 1 2016, the Sheriff’s Department requests that, “all candidates not place any political signs on any of the locations listed in the WV State Code 17-19-1.”
The letter sent to political candidates included a copy of the previously mentioned state code.
WV State Code 17-19-1 concerning political signs states, “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 or 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, including the road or highway itself, except that the commissioner may provide for suitable road signs, danger signals and other signs of informational nature. No such sign or other marking shall be suspended over 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 public to the candidacy of any person for any public office; and any such device which exists in violation 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.”
The WV State Code 17-19-1 also lists the consequences of violating the code. The code states, “Any person violating this section, whether as principal, agent, or employee, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than 25 not more than one hundred dollars and such person shall be deemed guilty of a separate offense 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 commissioner 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.”
For more information concerning this issue, contact the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department at 304-235-0300.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)