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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Tough action could help clean up town

Thursday, March 8, 2007

It's that time of year when Sikeston and other communities try to address the issue of trash around residential property. Sikeston's code enforcement officers address this issue on a daily basis. Mayor Mike Marshall this week called for renewed vigilance toward eyesore violations and urged citizens here to adhere to city ordinances and remove trash and eyesores. And the city soon will begin their annual Spring Clean-Up campaign.

I drive our community on a daily basis. Unlike many of you perhaps, I take the time to drive blighted neighborhoods to monitor our progress. The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority has taken countless positive steps to address the violations that are obvious.

In short, most residents comply with trash removal ordinances. But it's the ones who fail to comply who get the most notice, as well they should.

One of the first signs of a community's demise is when residents abandon pride in their property and their community. It becomes a cancer that impacts neighborhoods first and eventually the entire community. It's up to us to put a halt to this decline.

I noticed in a recent municipal court report one resident was fined a substantial amount for trash violations. Coincidentally, I am aware of this particular citizen because I have contacted code enforcement about this resident's lack of compliance. I can cite at least a dozen instances where city staff has contacted this resident and in most cases, issued a ticket for the violation. But I also know that this resident has been warned repeatedly in addition to the tickets.

This particular individual has now been fined $500 for this latest violation. But the problem is that the fine alone is not changing behavior. So maybe it's time we take more drastic actions.

I would suggest that we begin putting some of these violators in jail to send a clear message that we take pride in our community and we demand change from those who do not. Jail time may be the only way to force a change in behavior. Or better yet, perhaps jail time will convince these residents to move to some other community that will tolerate their trashy lifestyle.

The courts here are doing an excellent job of addressing this important issue. But perhaps it is time now to step up the heat to get the results we all want and deserve.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen