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Valley woman voices concerns over yard condemnation

VALLEY — A Valley woman whose backyard property was cleaned up in a condemnation action several months ago complained to the Valley City Council Monday evening that the city’s Public Works Department workers had taken a number of items in good condition without her permission.

Deborah Taunton, who lives on 12th Avenue in Todd Addition, told the council that she understood the reason for the cleanup and wasn’t complaining about that but felt the city should not have taken to the landfill items that could still be used.

She claims that these items include a Husqvarna 48 riding mower, a 200 horsepower outboard motor, a 100-foot high-pressure hose, a Craftsman tool box, car wash supplies and buffer, two gas grills, a Green Egg smoker, two metal chaise lounge chairs, a gas pump and a gas can, a two-person hammock and two rear ends for a Chevrolet truck.

The riding mower, said Taunton, needed a new battery but was otherwise in good condition.

“They took some good stuff that day,” she said.

Mayor Pro Tem Randall Maddux, filling in for Mayor Leonard Riley who was on vacation, countered that Mrs. Taunton’s daughter, Staci, was there on the day of the cleanup and had told the workers what they could take and what to leave. “She was there all day,” he said. “They took what she asked them to.”

“Even the paper said that she had been hollering at them not to take stuff,” Taunton replied. “A lot more was taken than should have been. She tried to stop them.”

The condemnation action that had been approved by the council exempted the house from the cleanup action. The house itself couldn’t be touched but it was everything goes for the yard. Legally, it was no different from any other cleanup of an overgrown lot in the city that has a condemnation action against it. Such action empowers the city to leave everything bare if that’s what the cleanup crew decides to do.

Taunton said that she had been embarrassed that the cleanup revealed what she called a “Sanford and Son” barn that was an eyesore. The structure was later torn down and removed.

Maddux, who represents the neighborhood on the council, said that neighbors had been complaining for some time about the deplorable condition of the yard and had been urging the council to take action.

A condemnation action requires the city to notify the property owner of an impending action. The owner is given 45 days to clean up the property on their own. If they fail to do so, the city can take action to clean it up and then send the property owner a bill in the form of a lien on the property.

In other action at Monday’s meeting, Public Works Director Patrick Bolt said that much work had been accomplished in the way of street paving.

“We are finished with 55th and 56th streets and 23rd and 38th boulevards,” he said. “We’re almost finished with California Road, and we’ve started on River Road. There’s still some patching left to do on River Road before we get there. We will also have some backfilling and striping to do once the paving is finished. We should be through with everything by the end of July.”

Valley Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Blount congratulated three Valley Parks and Recreation youth baseball teams for advancing to District tournaments.

“We have three different teams participating,” she said. “A 9- and 10-year-old team is playing in Russell County, an 11- and 12-year-old team is playing here at the Sportsplex and a 7- and 8-year-old team will be playing in Talladega. We are proud of them and we wish them well.”

On Friday, July 13 and Saturday, July 14 the Community Center will be playing host to a District swim meet.

“We will have lots and lots of people there that weekend,” she said.

Blount said that Grillin’ Day last Friday had been a lot of fun at the Farmers’ Market and thanked Sheriff Sid Lockhart, Police Chief Tommy Weldon, Ray Edwards and Elizabeth Hall for their help in making it a success.

“We will be having Free Tomato Sandwich Day on July 20 and Free Watermelon Day on Aug. 18,” she said. “We’re open every Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. There is a lot of good fruit and produce every Friday.”

Blount invited everyone to the city’s annual fireworks show to be held  at the Sportsplex on Wednesday, July 4.

“The fireworks will be fired from the industrial park site, the same as last year,” she said. “It will get started when it’s dark.”

The Community Center will be open from 7 a.m. till 4 p.m. EDT on the Fourth. A senior swim will take place from 11 a.m. till noon and a free swim for the community will be taking place from noon till 3 p.m.

Members of the council took turns thanking Public Works and the private contractors on having paved streets in their districts.

“The residents really like the nice, smooth ride on 38th Boulevard,” said Council Member Paul Story. “The only problem is that those who live on the other half of the street (which was not resurfaced this summer) want their section paved, too.”

Council Member Henry Cooper expressed thanks for 55th and 56th streets being resurfaced and Cassie Carlisle is grateful for the work that’s being done on California Road. Marquetta Madden expressed thanks for some work that was recently done in her district, and Jimmy Gilson was appreciative of some work that was done in District 7.