The City of Oak Grove took to Facebook Monday to let its residents know that the city will be concentrating on cleaning up and beautifying the city this week.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recently announced that cities may begin issuing fines and citations to residents for code enforcement violations.

Oak Grove Mayor Theresa Jarvis shared that since the pandemic began and Beshear mandated that cities stop issuing citations, the city has been cutting grass and picking up trash at vacant homes for free.

Now that Oak Grove can begin issuing citations again, the city’s code enforcement officer will be focusing on keeping the city clean and attractive.

Code enforcement will begin giving warnings first for tall grass, litter and other code enforcement issues.

However, Jarvis said the announcement is a warning to residents in hopes they will be their homes and property orderly.

“We don’t want to fine our residents for this at all,” Jarvis said. “We want to be safe for the neighbors to be able to get out in their yard and enjoy it as well.”

Jarvis explained that part of the reason the city wants to focus on keeping grass short and trash picked up is for safety.

She shared that because the city hasn’t been able to post warnings or citations, the grass had to be cut for free at some homes because the grass had gotten too tall and animals had been found hiding in them, causing safety concerns for the neighboring homes.

“Since March we haven’t been able to (give warnings, citations or liens) because of the coronavirus — we’ve just been mowing it to try to keep the city cleaned up and safe because once that grass gets so tall, there’s rats, snakes, ticks and all kinds of stuff hiding in there,” Jarvis said.

While the city has been mowing yards without issuing citations, fines or liens, the city is still charged $100 per hour for any of the yards that are mowed.

Jarvis said that was another reason the city wanted to give a warning to its residents. During the pandemic, she added, the city focused primarily on vacant homes but the new code enforcement officer did knock on doors and asked residents to clean their yards.

“We basically concentrated on vacant properties and our code enforcement officer would do a courtesy knock on a door and for the most part, get people to clean up their yards without posting anything,” Jarvis said.

“I don’t believe they mowed anybody that lived in the property. Our code enforcement officer did pretty good about getting (people) to mow their own yard, just by knocking on their door and asking them.”

The city and the code enforcement officer have also been helping pick up any trash or litter in the area of the vacant homes to keep the city clean.

Jarvis shared that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city would hire the Christian County Jail inmates to pick up trash and litter throughout the city.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the city hasn’t been able to utilize the non-violent inmates and Oak Grove has only two employees in the code enforcement department, Jarvis said.

“So, as soon as (the inmates) are allowed, we’ll probably get them to pick up some of the trash on the sides of the roads,” Jarvis said. “The city is trying to keep it as clean as they possibly can (in the meantime).”

Jarvis added that just before the pandemic began, they were able to hire a new code enforcement officer. Before then, she said the city hasn’t had one for the last two years.

Because of that vacancy the city also didn’t have any code enforcement board meetings. Jarvis said those meetings will resume soon after the city is able to secure one more board member.

“We haven’t had a code enforcement board in two years.” Jarvis said. “We can probably start again in August with code enforcement meetings.

“I believe we have three people on the code enforcement board and I believe they are looking for one person to replace one that left in the last two years. We are looking for a code enforcement board member and they do get paid $20 a meeting.”

Jarvis added that those meetings are held once a month and it helps keep the city clean and attractive.

Jarvis said if you are interested in being a member of that board, to contact City Hall at 270-439-4646.

“So, (in the meantime) we’re just getting out there and getting things cleaned up and anything that our residents can do to get out there and clean up there own would be greatly appreciated,” Jarvis said.

“And, our code enforcement officer is very good with working with residents. There could be issues that cause the reasoning for them to have their grass so tall and we can always try to help with that and work with them.

“If somebody needs somebody to come mow for them, they can always give us a call and we can give them a list of mowing companies that have a business license in our city and we do have some people here in the city that have offered to help too, if they need the help.”

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