published Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Health, Safety Board aims for more options


by Cliff Hightower

by Matt Wilson
Audio clip

Ron Littlefield

Hamilton County commissioners will vote next week on whether to give the county's Health and Safety Board more authority to enforce codes for keeping properties free of debris.

"The two main changes are to, one, give us access to Chancery Court," Assistant County Attorney David Norton said. "It will allow us, in addition to Chancery Court, to go onto properties that are non-owner-occupied as an alternative to filing an action in Chancery Court."

Mr. Norton said officials would work for 120 days before the board took action on any matter. At that point, the board would bring the matter before the commission.

In August, public health officials informed commissioners that complaints about yard debris had doubled as foreclosures across the county rose.

According to the county's health and safety regulations, the county may fine property owners up to $49.99 per day for "the accumulation of discarded or worthless personal property" or excessive growth of grass, vines or underbrush.

census awareness day

Hamilton County commissioners heard a proclamation Thursday naming Saturday Census Awareness Day, in light of the local Delta Sigma Theta alumnae chapter's efforts to make sure black people are included in the process.

Ruby Key, a member of the alumnae group, said the day was commemorated all over the country on Saturday.

Ms. Key said the census questionnaires must be returned by April 1.

She said a telephone message would be sent to parents in Hamilton County Schools on March 22.

knowles suggests e-mail notification

Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles sent an e-mail suggestion to state officials last week asking them to send e-mail notices regarding tag renewals in the place of some mailed reminders.

"If motorists would voluntarily furnish a secured e-mail address when registering a vehicle, the state could realize significant savings in providing this reminder," he wrote. "Motorists without e-mail would continue to receive a postal service reminder."

Linda Kelley, director of taxpayer services for the state's Revenue Department, said the suggestion "merits serious consideration."

swafford seeks re-election

Hamilton County Juvenile Court Clerk Ron Swafford announced last week that he will seek re-election to his post for a fourth term.

"Our office has improved in many areas, but we still have work to do," Mr. Swafford said in a news release.

Mr. Swafford, a Democrat, will face off against a Republican challenger, Gary Behler, for the position.

Compiled by staff writers Matt Wilson and Cliff Hightower

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