By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor

There is much heavy truck movement as excavation work is well underway at the former State Police Headquarters in Shinnston.  Owner Mark Southern says that six acres should be ‘buildable’ within the next 45 days.

People in the area seem to be wondering what is happening at the former Company A State Police Headquarters.  According to the property’s owner Mark Southern, now that all buildings have been demolished and their remains removed, he is beginning the excavation process.

“I have approximately 12 acres of ground where the former Company A was lodged for years, and I’m currently working on six acres in the front of the property to make it a buildable pad that can be developed. We had seven contractors bid on the work and Wolfe Contracting got the bid.  They are in the process of stripping off the virgin top soil so that I can begin to sell parcels to interested parties,” he explained.  “They are doing a great job of moving things along.”

Southern said that when the excavation is complete, he will have approximately 15,000 tons of top soil that has never been touched that will be for sale.

Interest has been exhibited and calls have been coming in – from fast food businesses, a physical therapy group, convenience stores, gas stations, and even a Dairy Queen, to name a few.

“I am giving them all the same response and that is that within the next 45 days, the excavation of this six-acre parcel should be finished and then I can begin to talk with them seriously about purchasing.  Once the ground is cleared and the site has been graded and leveled out, they can also get a better idea of what is available and where they might like to locate,” he continued.

He added that he would like to leave some of the trees on the property and has no plans to remove any more at this time.  However, he noted that the area where the flagpoles are located will have to be removed (temporarily) while work is being done, but they will be put back in place at the entrance later.  He also stated that a traffic light will need to be erected at the development’s entrance to ease traffic flow and he is already going through the proper channels to coordinate that.

The power company was on site last week removing utility poles as Southern says the development will have all underground utilities.

As grading is done, he said that the buildable property will stay twenty feet from the cemetery on the right as well as twenty feet from Van Rufus Drive homeowners’ property lines on the other side.

“The property will be available for commercial development,” Southern added.  “We’re starting off with the six acres in the front, and there will be another six acres remaining that could also have potential for development – either commercially or perhaps for residential lots and/or multi-family units.  There could even be spaces available for lease.  That remains to be seen, and I’m afraid that most of my answers at this point are purely conjecture because until the ground is prepared, nothing can be sold and no talks can begin until that point.”

Southern says that his vision is to have a nice restaurant and perhaps a grocery store and motel show an interest in locating here.

“My ultimate goal is to help bring economic development to my hometown,” he concluded.  “I am aware that it won’t happen overnight, but it could bring a tremendous boost to Shinnston and I want to play a part in seeing that occur.  I feel that God has a hand in this and I’m leaving it in His hands.”