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UPDATE: Clean-up process begins on spray painted waterfall

PAINT CREEK, WV (WOWK) - UPDATE:

Two days after 13 News reported on a Fayette County waterfall that had been spray painted by vandals, the clean-up process has begun.

Shay Couch, president of the Paint Creek Watershed Association tells us that the people responsible for the vandalism were asked by DNR investigators to remove the spray paint. 

We reached out to the woman who claimed responsibility for the vandalism on May 23 in several photos posted on social media.

She said, "It's being resolved if you would like an answer you can contact the DNR or WV state police natural resources. Please do not contact me anymore because I will not make anymore comments. Thanks."

No charges have been filed in the case. 

We have reached out to the DNR, so far we have not received a response.


ORIGINAL:

The Paint Creek, West Virginia community is outraged over the vandalism of a beautiful, natural landmark in our region.  

To the neighbors there in Fayette County, Westerly Falls, or Paint Creek Falls as many folks call them, is more than just a waterfall, and the vandalism there now is much more than just an eyesore. 

Shay Couch is the president of the Paint Creek Watershed Association.  He said, "Why destroy something so pristine, just to be able to put something so childish as adults, spray painted on rocks? She loves somebody else.  Whoop-dee-doo."

On Friday, June 29, a viewer messaged a screenshot of a woman's post claiming responsibility for spray painting Westerly Falls.  The post was dated May 23. 

The photos in the post showed photos of two children posing beside the spray paint.  The names spray painted on the rocks matched the names of the woman who posted the photos and the woman tagged in the post of the photos. 

The Paint Creek Watershed Association has worked tirelessly over the course of the last 18 years to clean up the creeks and streams that run through their communities.

Couch said Monday, "The whole time I was growing up, you couldn't even catch a creek chub in Paint Creek."

These days, the Association works hand in hand with coal companies, the DEP, and DNR to make the area a destination for fisherman, cyclists, and families.  Shay referred to the area as a "diamond in the rough". 

He said he was made aware of the situation within the last couple of days.  He added that the Facebook post was forwarded to him and several others with the Association.  

No charges have been filed at this time in connection with the case. 

When our crew arrived at the falls to take a look at the vandalism, a family was fishing there.  Brian Preece is from St. Albans.  His father is from Mahan.  He's fished and 4-wheeled the area his entire life.  

"I'm just really disappointed," he said.  "It's such a beautiful place and a lot of people work really hard to keep it beautiful."

Spray painting like this, it's definitely an eye-sore, but it turns out, there are some real environmental hazards.  "It's pollution," Couch said.  

Couch said he wants the person, or persons, responsible to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  "It's got to stop, he said.  "If they can catch somebody and make an example out of them, like my dad always used to say, maybe the word would get out."

Meantime, the fishing here continues.

The Paint Creek Watershed Association is doing their job.  Now, everyone is waiting for the folks responsible to reap the consequences. 

We have reached out to the person who posted those photos on Facebook.  She said, "I don't care what you do as long as you don't use our kids pictures!!"

13 News blurred all of the faces and names in the photos posted.  

We also have calls and emails into the DNR.  So far, they have not been able to confirm that an investigation into the falls vandalism is taking place.

Stay with 13 News for details on this developing story. 


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