“She has to poop and pee in a bucket.” Those were the words of Project Hope coordinator Steve Collins as he described the living conditions of a resident living in a downtown apartment to the Manchester City Council Monday night.
The standing-room only crowd for the meeting was in shock as Collins told them about how the woman only receives $796 dollars a month in government assistance but pays $700 in rent for an apartment that doesn’t provide any indoor plumbing.
Project Hope was speaking to the council about enforcing codes within the city limits, such as building codes.
Collins said the apartment wasn’t the only one with problems in downtown.
“We’ve got all kinds of issues we need to fix if we want Manchester to become a destination for tourists,” he said. “Abandon cars line Bridge Street and sit in yards throughout Manchester. We’ve got a major trash issue. To move forward we’ve got to make a change because no one wants to come visit a dirty town.”
Collins said he spoke with Mitchell Allen, owner of Allen’s Wrecker Service, and he said with the council’s approval that he would tow any abandon vehicle free of charge.
Over the last several months, Project Hope has made a huge impression on council members with their diligent work in cleaning up downtown Manchester. The majority of the two and a half-hour meeting centered around code enforcement and cleaning town.
“These people (Project Hope) are busting their butts cleaning our town,” councilwoman Penny Robinson said. “We (the council) need to do our part and help clean our town.”
The council, acting without Mayor James Ed Garrison who could not attend the meeting, elected Earl Owens to moderate the meeting. It was noted that the mayor could veto any item passed by the council within 30 days.
City police chief Chris Fultz addressed the council about police officer Antonio Dodson, who also serves as the code enforcement officer.
Fultz told the council Dodson works night shift which makes it extremely hard for him to serve as the code enforcement officer. He recommended that police Lt. Jason Combs, who works day shift, be appointed in Dodson’s place. The council agreed and unanimously voted Combs to the position.
To support Combs in helping enforce the city’s nuisance and building codes, they discussed appointing a code enforcement board to help oversee what they feel will be a massive clean-up. City attorney Jenna Corum-Jackson said she was doing research on the code enforcement board and would be able to present it at the next meeting.
City councilman Jamey Mills said he felt each fast food restaurant should have covered garbage containers at their locations to help curb the littering problem.
“I’ve noticed that most restaurants do not have any garbage cans outside,” he said. “We need a zero tolerance on litter. We, as a city, have got to do something about this problem.”
Mills said he would request a city-ordinances from Hazard as they have been doing a massive cleanup in their town also. Once received, Mills said he would sponsor similar ordinances for Manchester.
Councilwoman Robinson talked about the issue of a street sweeper.
Robinson, holding a copy of last week’s Enterprise said, “It’s a shame if I want to know what’s going on with the city I have to read The Manchester Enterprise. I didn’t realize we weren’t cleaning the streets anymore.”
The council says they previously had a contract with a company to come in and clean the streets four times a year, but it had been canceled without their knowledge.
Councilman Mills says he would fill out an application to see if the tourism commission could help fund having the streets cleaned.