By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Members of the county’s Building Committee discussed what they called a problem of derelict properties in the Hartsville city limits during their Jan. 3 meeting.

Committee member John Oliver presented a photo slideshow of properties he said were of particular concern.

“We have properties in Trousdale County that are cracked, falling down and we should be ashamed of,” Oliver said. “Why haven’t we done anything about them? Because we’re not sure whose responsibility it is.”

Oliver called some of the properties he described “a public nuisance.”

“The sheriff says it’s not my responsibility to cut the grass, the county says we can condemn it but we don’t know who owns the property… I’ve gone through (former mayors) Carroll (Carman), Jakie (West) and Jerry (Clift); they’ve done nothing. I’m tired of it.”

Committee chairman Dwight Jewell, who serves as the county’s building inspector and codes official, noted a lack of cooperation between various county offices in the past as part of the reason nothing has been done.

“One of these, we were ready to issue a citation and go to court, and the county attorney wouldn’t take it to court,” Jewell said. “I’ve run into roadblock after roadblock. The building part got so busy that I went to the Executive Committee and said I can’t do both.”

Oliver cited Macon County’s process for dealing with derelict property as an example of what he would like to see locally. He said the Macon codes director takes pictures of properties and uses them as evidence in court to get things done.

“We’ve passed ordinances and we can do it,” Oliver said. “Eventually we’re going to have to do it.”

The committee also discussed whether the county should hire a full-time maintenance man for county buildings. Currently Public Works is charged with the care of those properties, but member noted that Public Works head Cliff Sallee has so many duties that some get pushed to the back burner.

“Cliff does a yeoman’s task every day,” Jewell said. “It is as much to relieve from him and his men having to do this. We’ve got good buildings but we’ve never maintained them. That needs to change.”

Jewell also introduced committee members to Sam Edwards, who has been hired to replace Jewell as building inspector/codes official when he retires later this year.

The committee took no action but plans to reexamine the issue at its next meeting on Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.