Tift County cleans up rundown properties - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tift County cleans up rundown properties

June 22, 2007

Tifton--Tift County is cracking down on eyesores. Last year, code enforcement agents in Tift county closed fifty property cases---that means the building was either cleaned up or demolished. This year is no different.

On Whiddon Street in Tift County, you'll find a variety of nice homes--that is until you stumble upon this one.

"Ooooh. Very out of place," says Wesley Mims.

That's how Mims describes the old, rundown house that sits just a few feet away from his own.

"You had druggies coming up to my vehicle trying to sell me merchandise to get drugs," says Mims.

Mims says this house and others like it only attract crime.

"As long as they stand, it gives crack heads and alcoholics. The opportunity to go in and utilize the place," says Mims.

His neighbors finally put a stop to the illegal activity going on inside the house by contacting Tift County code enforcement.

"That's what it's all about, bringing the neighborhood back,"says Mims.

So far the county has more than 100 dilapidated homes on records. Out of that number, 28 of those homes have been demolished or cleaned up."

"We're in the process of closing as many as possible," says code enforcement director, Carl Fortson.

Just Friday, Fortson paid a visit to this mobilehome where an elderly man had been living in what looked like a landfill.

"It was just deplorable conditions for a human being to live in," says Fortson.

These are photos of what Fortson found on the inside: garbage and clutter everywhere.

"There was so much debris in the home, it took an hour to get him out. He could be fined," says Fortson.

Folston and his team are beefing up patrol in the area to make sure Tift County stays clean.

"Tifton and Tift County is one of the cleanest cities in the United States and we want to keep it that way," says Fortson.

And appreciates homeowners, like Mims, who follow the law.

"We need good examples, that helps us a lot," says Fortson.

But Mims says he's just doing what any good homeowner would do.

"We're here to build a community instead of tear it down," says Fortson.

Property owners have ninety days to comply with the county's code ordinance if they are found in violation of it. If they fail to, they can face hefty fines and spend up twelve months in prison or both.

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