Jackson County’s Code Enforcement Officer Mike Taylor has created a program to help homeowners who are in violation of the county’s solid waste and nuisance policies but are not able to correct those things due to physical and/or financial limitations.
He’s assembled a group of volunteers to do the needed work. Darien Hill of Hill Tree Service will be helping with tree debris removal. Wesley Hatcher will provide towing service for derelict vehicles. Mahindra of Marianna is giving time and equipment for debris pick-up or collection of donated materials. Gerry Gochenaur will provide dumpsters. Chris Smith and Taylor will provide lawn service. Glenn Scherer and Eddie Bowden will give time and provide equipment for debris pick-up. The county recycling program will provide a trailer for things that can be hauled away and recycled. And Waste Management will provide dumpsters and reduce dump rate fees for receiving the materials collected. The homeowners will have some responsibility for paying those adjusted fees but the labor and the equipment will be provided at no charge.
There’s an application process and there are eligibility requirements for the Jackson County Code Enforcement Dumpster Program: To qualify, for instance, a household must have received a notice of code violation. County staff in code enforcement will assist applicants with the paperwork if necessary.
Applicants must also meet at least one of the following criteria: The household income is at or less than 120 percent of the area annual median income for Jackson County as determined annual by Housing and Urban Development. The household income will be verified in the application process; be 60 years of age or older, or be physically unable to perform the work needed; be disabled or have a disabled family member in the household; Anyone applying who is under the age of 60 must provide a medical statement of disability or Social Security disability insurance proof. Commercial and rental properties are not eligible for the program.
Taylor said this “code enforcement through volunteers” program is one he hopes will be an answer for the many individuals who want to get their properties cleared of nuisance items but are simply not physically able or financially situated to do it themselves or hire it done. Once the work is done, Taylor said, the homeowners will be expected to maintain the order that will have been created.
“I’ve been in law enforcement 30-something years, as a deputy, a city cop, and I worked at the federal prison in Marianna for 20 years. After that, I was a bailiff, so I’ve been involved in public service a long time. When I took this position two years ago, I saw that many of the people I was dealing with really wanted to get their places cleaned up but they either couldn’t financially or physically do what they knew needed to be done. Lots of people had just accumulated a lot of things over the years, and seeing it every day, they were used to it and they didn’t really know how bad it was looking until they tried to clean it up and just couldn’t.”
That circumstances needed a solution with some compassion peppered in, Taylor thought.
“I saw something positive could come from being able to help these individuals, instead of just sending them a letter, and looking at court action, liens, things that could take years to resolve, and still a mess lingering while those things played out,” Taylor said. “The desired end result is to get them in compliance. Why can’t we help them do that? We’re going to try. We’ve worked out a plan to do that in cases where these difficulties exist.”
Taylor said the program is already getting underway, but that people will need to have some patience.
“It takes time, and so people will have to understand that they might have to be on a waiting list for a little while,” he cautioned. “Hopefully, we can get some more volunteers, with labor and equipment, and we’ll move as fast as resources allow to get things cleaned up and manageable for them so they can start maintaining it from there on their own. It’s a different approach to code enforcement, a new program that will need some time to get going. I think has some real merit, a good neighbor gesture coming from not just the local government, but from community volunteers with good hearts and intentions that want to help others. I think that may have some special meaning and really positive effects in these difficult times we’re in.”
For additional information, or to sign up as a volunteer, contact Mike Taylor, Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-482-9087.