County officials note abandoned property problem

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By Brandon Mattingly

Washington County magistrates opened discussion about abandoned homes and other structures causing problems throughout the county at a recent regular scheduled fiscal court meeting.

Magistrate Hal B. Goode said it has been brought to his attention that deserted properties are a growing concern throughout Washington County, and as a member of the Texas community, he didn’t have to look far.

“I’ve had some calls—and some others have—about deserted homes,” Goode said at the meeting less than two weeks ago. “We talked about this several years back, and we’ve even talked a little bit about it this past year, with nuisance ordinances that some other communities have, and that we’ve looked at. I’ve got two (abandoned properties) just within three or four miles of my house.”

While his fellow magistrates agreed that something needs to be done, Goode added that fixing the problem hasn’t been as simple as contacting the property owners and sharing their neighbors’ concerns.

“We can’t even find the ownership at times, but I’d say if we look around (the county) we could find several of these types of homes.”

It was suggested that the issue be brought up at a future fiscal court meeting, and that Planning Commissioner Buddy Parker be part of the conversation.

“What I would like is for the court to look at some sort of nuisance ordinance,” Goode said. “Not just from the standpoint that those homes are next door to somebody else’s, but there are so many safety hazards with a couple of these homes.”

Other notes:

• There will be one fiscal court meeting held for the month of August. Due to a scheduling conflict, the lone meeting will be held on Aug. 14 as a special-called meeting.

• The court discussed the current standard operating procedure for Washington County EMS, as cigarette smoking had recently been observed in a county ambulance. Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles and EMS Director Mark Hale discussed a plan to more strictly enforce the current guidelines, which states, “Smoking is prohibited at all times in WCEMS vehicles due to the danger of a smoldering fire and the close proximity to an oxygen delivery system…The use of tobacco products including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pips, chewing tobacco, snuff, plugs, packets, etc. while in WCEMS vehicles is prohibited.”

• Glenn Spalding’s term as a member of the SWEDA (Springfield-Washington County Economic Development Agency) board recently came to an end. He has agreed to serve another term.

Not in attendance was magistrate Billy Riney, Jr.