CLENDENIN, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha County Commission’s Demolition Grant Program tore down its first structure this morning on Rt. 4 in Clendenin.

The program aims to get rid of blighted homes that can be eyesores and safety hazards to communities. The abandoned home in Clendenin has been a hazard for years, as it’s so close to Rt. 4, debris was constantly falling on the roadway.

Clendenin Mayor Kay Summers says going through Kanawha County’s grant program has been a lot smoother than federal options. “The nice thing about it is once this is torn down it’s the landowner’s property. When the federal government does it, and they’re still doing houses here today six years later, people cannot sell their property for three years or put anything on it for three years. The good thing about this is that they can do something tomorrow if they want,” says Summers.

The way the program works is an individual may apply for this grant program to tear down blighted structures, and the Kanawha County Commission pays 50% of the total cost. Commissioner Lance Wheeler says they always get calls about abandoned homes and it’s important for them to be demolished because they become a fire hazard and pull resources from first responders.

“We’ve seen them catch fire repeatedly, and it’s a safety hazard, not only just running up our resources for our local fire departments, our volunteer fire departments, but also we understand that there are some individuals who use them for other reasons and the community wants to have a safe place for their kids. Getting rid of these structures is the first step of cleaning up our community,” says Wheeler.

The commission says they plan to tear down more than 50 homes in the next year and has dedicated 2 million dollars to the grant program.