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July 20, 1995

A group of Perry young people held a benefit car wash recently on the Perry Plaza parking lot to raise money for a project they hope to undertake. They had no set fees, just asked the vehicle owners to leave a contribution. Afterward they were able to make several observations.

For one thing, they found a surprising correlation between the size of the contribution and the quality of the vehicle washed. For example, a gentleman passing through town brought in his very dirty, but very sporty, red BMW, and the young folks enjoyed working on such a classy car. They zestfully polished it, buffed it and detailed it, and the owner drove off after giving them only a $2 donation. Just before that, a fairly clean but badly weathered pickup truck went through the wash line, and that driver left a $10 gift.

Obviously the BMW owner was still making monthly payments, while the pickup driver had paid off his loan long ago.

Belle Busse is making an inquiry and a comment on a matter of concern to many of us. She writes:

"I'm hoping you will write about clean back yards and alleys. We all like a pretty and clean front yard. But, some of our alleys are a terrible disgrace. Do you know if the home owner or the City is responsible for the weeds and underbrush at the back of the lot? The alley I'm thinking of is in a nice part of town. There are a few clean ones, but it would take a month to clean the weeds and underbrush in the majority of those homes, and I believe most of them are owned by the occupants. What's the answer? Whose job is it? I'll bet a dollar it's the property owner's job."

Mrs. Busse would win that bet. I took the matter to City Hall and got this response to Mrs. Busse's timely question.

Property owners, not the city, have the responsibility of keeping alleys and back yards clear of underbrush, weeds and so forth. Yard debris harvested from the yards and alleyways will be picked up and hauled off by city workers without charge.

In the case of dilapidated buildings or obviously badly neglected property, the city zoning officer, David Hatfield, will make an inspection if a citizen complaint is filed. If the zoning officer feels action is warranted, he takes the matter to the city council. After that, the property owner can be billed by the city for whatever remedial work is required to clean the place up.

The thing to remember is that a citizen complaint must be filed to initiate the action. The place to start is with the zoning officer, David Hatfield, who also is fire chief. You can call him at 336-9755.

Mrs. Busse also is right on target in commenting about the condition of many of our alleys. Let's work together and clean up every eyesore around here to show the world that we stake pride in our city. That's not just limited to alleyways and back yards. As a matter of fact, quite a few front yards would benefit from a little tender, loving care.