Valley declares home public nuisance

Published 4:08 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2019

VALLEY — A father and son who have been living in a house without running water or electricity will have to find somewhere else to live after the Valley City Council on Monday declared their School Street home a public nuisance.

Civil action will be taken to remove them from the house before demolition begins.

The house will be torn down and removed from the site and the lot cleaned up at the city’s expense. Should the city take possession of the land, the lot can be sold to recoup the cost of cleaning it up.

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Code Enforcement Officer Reid Riley explained the circumstances of the situation to the council. He said the lot is in the name of Clarence J. White Jr., who died several years ago without a will. Living with him were his son-in-law, Dana Gordy, and grandson, Joshua Gordy. They’re still there. The elder Gordy is disabled; the son said that he’s been offered jobs but can’t take them since he doesn’t have transportation to get there every day.

The water and electricity to the house were turned off more than a year ago due to non-payment and can’t be turned back on because the Gordys don’t legally own the house. For that to be true, a will must be probated in one of their names.

Riley told the council that he’d been working on this case for more than a year.

“I’ve asked him numerous times to get the property cleaned up,” he said. “It hasn’t been done.”

Riley presented photos of the house for council members to review. He said that Joshua Gordy would not allow him inside the house until he told him he’d take him to court if he didn’t.

“I have contacted him multiple times about this,” he said. “The utilities have been cut off for more than a year. The house has no kitchen or bathroom. The toilet and the kitchen sink have been removed. It’s a bad situation, and I have given him a year to come into compliance. He has not done so.”

Gordy disputed the claim that nothing has been done to improve the house.

“I have put in new windows,” he said. “The only thing wrong on the inside is that some of the lights need to be worked on. I care about the place and want to be there.”

Gordy said that friends had offered to help him clean up the place, but they have backed off since the house has been condemned.

City Attorney John Ben Jones said that he couldn’t find a will giving him the land.

“It has to be probated, and that hasn’t been done,” he said.

Gordy said he doesn’t know what else his family will do.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said. “Where else can we go?”

After the council unanimously approved a resolution declaring the property a public nuisance, Jones said that Gordy and his dad would have to be removed from the premises before any action could be taken to tear down the house. Mayor Leonard Riley asked him how long that would take.

“Probably a month,” Jones said. “A civil action will have to be filed, and they will have to go before a judge.”

Following the meeting, Gordy told The Valley Times-News that he had lived in the house since he was 17, and had become attached to the place. Everything was fine when he and his dad were living with his grandfather, but they’ve been having problems since he died.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said.