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Sign company won't be cited

January 18, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 100-foot interstate sign that blew down in a residential parking lot last week was bolted to a slab of concrete instead of having its base buried in concrete about 20 feet underground, a City of Martinsburg code official said Tuesday.

But the city won't cite the owner, Lamar Advertising of Bluefield, W.Va., because the company did not install the sign, Code Official Darby Dean said.

"They apparently inherited the problem from someone else," Dean said.

Lamar General Manager Jim McMillan said Lamar bought the firm that installed the sign and is checking into the safety of other signs that came with the purchase.

While high winds obviously caused the sign to fall, the firm has rigid installation standards, imbedding its support poles deep underground in concrete bases, he said.

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The billboard was put up 15 to 20 years ago, Dean said.

Winds measured at about 40 mph by the National Weather Service blew down the 100-foot-tall metal pole Jan. 11. The pole, holding two tiers of billboards on both sides, landed in a parking lot at the Martin's Landing subdivision, just missing a car.

No one was injured.

The billboard pole had been attached with long anchor bolts to a concrete slab underground, Dean said.

Most other billboards in the area, including one owned by Lamar at the intersection of Tavern Road and Dry Run Road, have support poles imbedded in concrete 10 to 20 feet underground, Dean said.

Dean said the original sign application should have an engineering report with it stating the pole was expected to last indefinitely, if he can find the records from that long ago.

Lamar was "expeditious" in arriving last Wednesday to cut up the fallen billboard and truck away large pieces during the following days, Dean said. Some remnants remained Tuesday.

McMillan called the incident "unfortunate" and said the company will compensate the owners of the two cars damaged by debris from the falling billboard.

"We're a responsible company," McMillan said.

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