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The Towne N’ Country Foodland grocery store in Chapmanville.

CHAPMANVILLE — Officials of the Towne N’ Country Foodland grocery store in Chapmanville have responded to comments made at a recent town council meeting regarding a foul odor emitting from a storm drain in the store’s parking lot.

During the Chapmanville Town Council’s most recent regular session Tuesday, Oct. 13, councilman Gary Bledsoe expressed frustration over what he said is a foul odor in the parking lot of the store — particularly around the front in the prime parking zone. Although the matter was not on the agenda, Bledsoe asked other council members if anything could be done, to which Steve Savage, the town’s supervisor of street and sanitation, explained that the drain belongs on store property and not the town.

Michael Brown, director of operations for Towne N’ Country Foodland, said neither he nor the store’s owners, Rick Lowe and family, had been made aware of any complaints about drains smelling. Brown said that any such complaint would have been handled accordingly.

“Anything that’s brought to our attention, we take great pride in maintaining the properties here,” Brown said. “The Lowe family has always maintained the properties. You see by the investments that have been done here, and we will react immediately. If we had been aware, we would have reacted to it. We do check those on a regular basis. We do our store walks, and we’ve had not anyone mention it. If there was a concern, we would address it immediately, that’s what we would have done.”

Brown said the drain in question is nearly brand new, having been installed only two to three months ago as part of the ongoing construction of a drive-thru pharmacy that is being added to the store. The installation of the drain cost $10,000 and drains water from the back hillside through the front, and also handles water from the roof downspouts.

Brown said about $50,000 has been spent on redoing the entire drains around the front of the store to update the aging system that was in place. The drains empty into the town’s main system.

After Brown became aware of Bledsoe’s concerns, he said he checked the drain and did not find any issues.

“I immediately went down and actually checked all the drains and stood over top of that drain to make sure there was no odor and even looked down in it to make sure the water is clear, which it was,” Brown said, “and I assure you, our sewer system is (on the opposite side of the store), there is nothing but the runoff from the mountain and the runoff from the roof down to the downspouts going into this system.”

With now more than 60-plus employees, Brown noted numerous facility improvement investments that have been made or are ongoing at the store, which includes the pharmacy, an electronic marquee that highlights community happenings, paving of the parking lot and sealing of the striping, LED lighting throughout the store, new frozen food cases, new produce cases, a new heating and air conditioning system, and clearing of the back hillside.

“We’re always looking to have something that people would be proud of in southern West Virginia,” Brown said, “and as far as independence, which we’ve been here since 1953, this is one of the largest independent markets that’s out there, you know, we want the people to be proud of this market, which we are too, and surpass their expectations of service and quality and value and cleanliness, and a facility they can be proud of shopping in. I think we’re second to none, and we can take pride in that.”

For any concerns or comments regarding the store, Brown can be contacted at the store or at 304-855-3000.

HD Media news reporter Dylan Vidovich can be contacted via email at