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Drugs bring fear to W.Va. neighborhood

December 09, 1997

Drugs bring fear to W.Va. neighborhood

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - There was a time when 65-year-old Corinne Curtis would tell the drug dealers gathered outside of her home on the corner of North and Hessy streets in Charles Town to move along.

That was before her house was riddled in a hail of gunfire that shattered her windows and her sense of security.

Curtis was awakened Nov. 4 by the sound of breaking glass in her living room. She said she walked down the hall to the living room and did not realize her house had been shot at until she turned and saw a large hole in the kitchen wall above the light switch. Police found 14 bullet holes in her walls.

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"I just peep under the shades a little bit. Before this shooting I at least would run them away from my door. I'm scared to even report anything now. That open-air drug trafficking is starting again," Curtis said recently.

Charles Town Councilman Samuel Taylor nearly quit at a recent council meeting, saying he was frustrated with what he perceived as the lack of police action against drug dealers.

Charles Town Police Chief Mike Aldridge said police officers spend more of their time on patrols in the North Street neighborhood than any other part of the town.

But Taylor said the police need to park their cruisers there, not just drive through.

Taylor, a councilman for three years, said he feels he's not accomplished anything on the issue as a council member. He said the council spends more time talking about planting trees downtown than in attacking the crime problem.

"I'm wasting my time. I'm not interested in trees. Trees aren't going to kill anybody," Taylor said after the meeting.

Other Town Council members said they take the issue seriously and have taken action to fight crime.

Councilwoman Mary Via said cutting down on drug trafficking is important for the town's image.

Town officials are currently working on a long-term plan that includes coming up with ways to make the streets safer.

The town also wants to foster an image that will draw tourists interested in the town's rich history, officials said.

But North Street residents said they don't feel safe now and don't want to wait for long-term plans.

"It's just bad. Young boys come from every direction selling dope. They're out on the street all night long. It's scary," said North Street resident Conte Dorsey.

Dorsey, 74, said the boys play loud music constantly, disturbing the neighborhood.

Curtis said the police responded wonderfully when her house was shot up, so she doesn't want to criticize them.

"I appreciate everything the police have done, but it's gotten bad on this corner," Curtis said.

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