BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) _ Be careful not to rile a dedicated gardener. Some state police officers think one is haunting their Morgan County barracks.

Troopers moved into the house in 1974, more than a year after Ercel Michael died.

Michael, a retired carpenter, was devoted to caring for his lawn, which the state police turned into a parking lot.

''We think we upset him when we blacktopped that whole lot,'' said Sgt. Jim Riffle, who lived in the barracks in 1977, his first year in Morgan County.

''He was very meticulous about his lawn and garage,'' said Charlene Bohrer, Michael's niece. ''Everything had a place and everything was put in its place.''

Troopers find lights turned on when they return from patrol and hear doors slamming and stairs creaking at night, Riffle said.

''I was terrified when I first got there. I'd come in late at night and he would get mad and start slamming doors,'' Riffle said.

Sgt. Larry Bradley, who heads the three-trooper barracks in West Virginia's northeast corner, said the story of Michael's ghost is well-known among past and present troopers. But he said he's never heard or seen the ghost.

Riffle, however, has become a firm believer in ghosts.

''People laugh at me,'' he said, ''but I can tell you for a fact that some awful strange things happened at those barracks.''