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Washing away junk citations?
Athens man threatens to do laundry on porch to protest clean-community crackdown

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — Forget protesting with signs, a march or petition.

One man aims to object to his citations for litter and owning a junk vehicle by doing his wash on the porch.

Athens City Council President Harold Wales said the man who called and cursed him about the citations only gave his last name as Sims.

"He said we were just trying to be like some city he had lived in near Nashville," Wales said. "He also said we could take our ordinances and stick 'em."

Wales said Sims then told him where to stick it and added, "Next damn time the cops come over here, there'll be a washing machine on my porch. How do you like them apples?"

Wales said he told Sims, "I guess you'll just get cited again."

No outside appliances

Appliances kept outside, according to the city's ordinance, are considered junk.

Wales said a second caller admitted he was guilty and had kept a junk car in his yard eight years.

"I ain't paying the fine," the man told Wales. "You ain't going to tell me what to do with my car."

This brouhaha is over the city's crackdown on clean-community violations.

Athens police issued a press release last week stating that officers no longer will issue warnings for clean community violations, and that officers would cite property owners to appear in court.

Capt. Marty Bruce said the department has allocated one officer per shift to work with the two code enforcement officers on clean community issues.

On Monday, the first day of the crackdown, officers cited 25 property owners.

200 citations pending

Mayor Dan Williams said the department will issue more than 200 citations by week's end. Williams said third-shift officers, who work 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., are not issuing citations but are making a list of violators' addresses. The first- and second-shift officers visit those addresses and cite the violators.

Those who get citations have five days to clean their property and remove junk vehicles. Those who refuse will go to court. The fine for junk vehicles is $30 plus $146 in court costs. The litter fine is a minimum of $200 plus court costs.

Capt. Tracy Harrison said those who clean their property in five days can call Athens police at 233-8700 and ask for an inspection. If the property is clean, an officer will sign off on it. Harrison said violators who clean their property still have to pay the fine and court costs, but won't have to go to court.

"They can come pay their fine like paying a traffic ticket," Harrison said.

Wales said although complainers have been vocal, so have those who agree with the increased enforcement.

"A woman who saw me at lunch (Wednesday) said, 'Y'all are doing the right thing. Don't back down.'"

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