Looks like Sriracha's spicy aroma isn't in trouble after all!
Sriracha is out of hot water — at least, for now. The beloved hot sauce brand has been berated by the Huy Fong factory host town of Irwindale, California for months, with residents claiming that the smell coming from the factory is a public nuisance. The outlook was so bleak that Huy Fong began looking at other factory location to move within the year, including Texas. However, the Irwindale City Council voted last night to drop the claims that the Sriracha factory is a public nuisance. The vote comes after city officials toured the factory on Tuesday and discussed possible solutions in a closed-door meeting, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune
“We forged a relationship. Let’s keep that going,” City Councilman Julian Miranda said during the vote on Wednesday.
Residents had originally claimed that the spicy scents coming from the factory were permeating the town and causing itchy throats and watery eyes. Huy Fong CEO David Tran said that he would update the factory’s ventilation system, and continue working with the city to continue being good neighbors.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with THe Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi
‘We Don’t Want To Be Hostages’: Pa. Hog Farm Facing Lawsuit Over ‘Putrid’ Smell
BERWICK, Pa. (AP) – When the wind blows a certain way, residents know to head inside. Quickly. They claim the stench from an industrial hog farm on the edge of town is unbearable.
The gigantic “finishing” barn confines as many as 4,800 hogs. That many animals produce a lot of waste, and it’s what Will-O-Bett Farm does with the liquid manure – applying tens of thousands of gallons to nearby farm fields – that prompted a nasty legal dispute with neighbors.
Pennsylvania law shields farms from most suits making a nuisance claim, helping Will-O-Bett prevail in the lower courts. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court must now decide whether it will hear the case after plaintiffs filed a last-gasp appeal this month.
“People spent their entire life working to pay the mortgage and they can’t go outside now and sit on their own deck and have a glass of wine because it’s putrid here,” said Malcolm Plevyak, a recycling company owner so upset over the hog farm that he ran for and won local office.
Will-O-Bett’s owner, Paul Dagostin, declined comment, citing the pending litigation. His lawyer, Lou Kozloff, called the plaintiffs’ claims hyperbolic and unsubstantiated in a legal filing that asked the Supreme Court to decline the case. State regulators have found the farm to be in compliance and said it voluntarily implemented an odor-control plan even though it wasn’t legally required.
Industrial farms known as concentrated animal feeding operations allow for more efficient production of beef, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs. They’ve also stoked concerns about animal welfare as well as air and water pollution. Lawsuits are common, including one filed in North Carolina that recently resulted in a federal jury verdict of nearly $51 million – later slashed to $3.25 million – against the hog-production division of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods.
Will-O-Bett, a 63-year-old family farm just outside Berwick, population 10,000, began raising hogs in 2013 under contract for Country View Family Farms, which is part of a conglomerate that includes the Hatfield Quality Meats brand of pork products. The farm fattens them from 60 pounds when they arrive to 270 pounds when they leave for slaughter.
Will-O-Bett stores the manure in a 1.6 million-gallon underground tank. The manure is applied to farm fields as fertilizer in spring and fall. The 40,000-square-foot barn that confines the hogs is ventilated frequently, neighbors say, with 10 gigantic fans pointed in the direction of town. The plaintiffs’ lawsuit says about 1,500 residents live within a mile of the farm, which is also near schools, churches and a hospital.
The complaints began as soon as residents caught the first whiff.
Residents say they’re forced indoors when the breeze carries the odor their way, unable to mow the lawn, tend the garden or use the pool. They say they can’t open their windows or hang their wash out to dry.
“We want to enjoy our property,” said John Molitoris, who lives down the street from Will-O-Bett. “We don’t want to be hostages.”
Molitoris and more than 100 other residents sued the farmers and Country View, but a judge cited the state’s right-to-farm law in summarily dismissing their claims. A state appeals court agreed.
“We do not doubt that the plaintiffs are genuinely aggrieved by the odors associated with the Will-O-Bett’s expanded/altered operation,” Senior Judge Eugene B. Strassburger III wrote for Superior Court in March. “However, our Legislature has determined that such effects are outweighed by the benefit of established farms investing in expansion of agricultural operations in Pennsylvania.”
State regulators, meanwhile, says Will-O-Bett has complied with all regulations. The Department of Environmental Protection has gotten numerous complaints about the farm over the years, but its inspectors have yet to find a single violation. The Department of Agriculture says the farm complies with its odor-management plan.
Neighbors have asked the high court to intervene, a longshot in the best of circumstances. The court accepts a fraction of the appeals it receives.
“I’m not doing it for money,” said Kip McCabe, another plaintiff. “I just want the smell to stop.”
Five years after Will-O-Bett began raising large numbers of hogs, other residents seem to have made their peace with the farm – or at least become resigned to it. The “NO PIG FACTORY’ signs once found on many lawns have mostly disappeared. Most of the original plaintiffs have dropped out of the appeals.
Stacy Banyas said she’s gotten used to the pigs.
“I don’t know that it bothers me that much,” said Banyas, pushing a stroller with her 3-month-old daughter on a night when the springtime air smelled of freshly mown grass, not pig waste. “I don’t know that there’s anything we can do about it, either.”
(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Why Should You Keep Geese Away?
Referring to geese as a pest, scientists distinguish urban ones which largely inhabit towns and suburbs. They are either resident geese or so-called migrants, with the latter spending all seasons but summer in urban or suburban areas. Canada geese, the largest ones in species, summer in Canada but as soon as it is getting cold, they head for the southern United States. So, watching geese flying in a V formation, one will get a clear message from nature that the season is changing.
Most conflicts with property owners happen in places with large congregations of geese. First of all, problems arise from a direct contact with humans. Crossing roads in search of food or water, they threaten public safety and often become causes of traffic accidents. Geese are likely to attack and nip people, particularly kids, if they believe their nest is put at risk. This may be the case even though there is no real threat to their eggs or goslings.
The reason why you should learn how to keep geese off your lawn is the extent of the harm they can cause. Scientists from the Ohio State University note that the excessive consumption of turfgrass practically converts the lawn into a bare soil what leads to erosion. This may result in a considerable economic loss as the owner will have to spend extra money on replacing the grass. These pests are able to devour almost all agriculture grain crops while anything that has not been eaten may be trampled by geese. In spring, the damage can be appreciable for farmers growing cereal grains and sunflowers. In fall, swathed grains are typically consumed or trampled while, in winter, wheat crops are endangered. As a rule, geese forage in large groups, which is why the damage is tangible, be it agricultural fields, lawns or gardens.
But most of all, geese are known as a nuisance pest. They drop feces around in a casual manner contaminating soil in parks, lawns, patios and many other public spaces as well as private premises. The amount of the accumulated faces may be so considerable that a severe situation arises where people begin to avoid visiting these areas. Apart from that, goose feces contain pathogens which can contaminate water and cause human diseases if such water is injected. As scientists from the Center for Surgery, Naperville, put it, due to the increasing number of Canadian geese population, such healthcare problems as botulism and salmonella emerge in the areas of large congregations of geese. This also results in the necessity for extra spending on the treatment of water coming from reservoirs where geese gather.
One Texan's spicy plan to save the best condiment ever: Sriracha
In life, there are certain truths: California and Texas will always be rivals, and all food tastes better with Sriracha.
These truths inspired one Texas Republican to launch a social media campaign to move the embattled Huy Fong Foods factory (creator of this spicy miracle) from its current location in Irwindale, California, to Texas. Residents of Irwindale have complained that emissions from production of the heaven-sent sauce is causing watery eyes and bouts of coughing.
The complaints are to be expected, considering we all know Californians can be a bit, ahem, soft.
"It's a little silly in some people's minds, but this is a serious initiative to grow and bolster the economy," says Rep. Jason Villalba.
The complaints led to a temporary moratorium of Sriracha production in November by state lawmakers. In December, the California Department of Public Health ordered Huy Fong to stop shipments of the sauce while the department investigates whether the uncooked Sriracha is safe for consumption.
(More like California Department of Wet Blankets. Am I right?)
Here in Texas, land of the spicier the better, that didn't sit right with Dallas Rep. Jason Villalba who, afraid of life eating bland sandwiches and boring soups, sent a letter to Huy Fong Foods offering to move the factory to North Texas. "I use this product regularly," says Villalba. "I spend a lot of time in mom-and-pop Vietnamese restaurants, and I eat [Sriracha] almost daily."
And so on January 7, Villalba sent a letter to David Tran, CEO of Huy Fong Foods, and included a few key Texas lawmakers in the correspondence, including Gov. Rick Perry, who has unabashedly pursued California-based companies in an attempt to get them to move their business to Texas.
Citing over-regulation in California and Texas' business-friendly climate as key incentives in his letter to Tran, Villalba writes:
I want you to know that there is a viable alternative available should you choose to pursue it. The Great State of Texas would welcome you and your employees with open arms if you would consider moving the operation of Huy Fong Foods to Texas.
And though it may seem like a joke, Villalba says the economic impact of bringing a lucrative company like Huy Fong to the Lone Star State is anything but funny. "You're talking a significant number of jobs," he says. "[Huy Fong] has produced millions of bottles [of Sriracha] over the past few years. They could bring maybe 500 jobs to North Texas."
Although it's important to note that 500 jobs is just one representative's guess, what is certain is that a company like Huy Fong brings with it a variety of employment opportunities, everything from chile farming to manufacturing work to executive-level positions.
Since sending his letter, Villalba has set off on an aggressive social media campaign. On January 7, he took to Twitter to sound the battle cry:
As a pho connoisseur, I couldn't stand by and let California over-regulation jeopardize my favorite Vietnamese soup. http://t.co/GDkq8DTs64— Jason Villalba (@JasonVillalba) January 7, 2014
Oddly, Villalba isn't the first Texas politician to try and persuade Huy Fong to set up shop in the Lone Star State. Denton City Councilman Kevin Roden launched a social media campaign in October to convince the Sriracha manufacturer that its "hipster credibility" would fit in well in the college town.
Though Villalba would prefer the company to set up shop in North Texas, he says he would understand if they picked another spot — as long as it's in Texas. "I represent Dallas, so what's good for Texas is good for Dallas," he says. "We would lobby to have the facility in North Texas, but if they went somewhere else, I'd be okay with that."
As of this morning, Huy Fong Foods and Tran have yet to respond to Villalba's letter, though the representative says he is preparing to bring a handful of "Texas dignitaries" to the Southern California-based company if they do show interest.
"It's a little silly in some people's minds, but this is a serious initiative to grow and bolster the economy," Villalba says. "Any time there is an attractive company and they could do bigger and better things in Texas, you can bet we're going after it."
Why You Should Care
SLF is a serious invasive pest with a healthy appetite for our plants and it can be a significant nuisance, affecting the quality of life and enjoyment of the outdoors. If not contained, spotted lanternfly potentially could drain Pennsylvania’s economy of at least $324 million annually, according to a study carried out by economists at Penn State. The spotted lanternfly uses its piercing-sucking mouthpart to feed on sap from over 70 different plant species. It has a strong preference for economically important plants including grapevines, maple trees, black walnut, birch, willow, and other trees. The feeding damage significantly stresses the plants which can lead to decreased health and potentially death.
As SLF feeds, the insect excretes honeydew (a sugary substance) which can attract bees, wasps, and other insects. The honeydew also builds up and promotes the growth for sooty mold (fungi), which can cover the plant, forest understories, patio furniture, cars, and anything else found below SLF feeding.
A fleeting feeling of safety
Two hours to the north, Alicia Christiansen and her husband, Ben, woke up to see the French Creek Fire burning a couple of miles away. They live on 12 wooded acres in the Little River area of Glide.
“We could see trees flaring up, so we figured we should prepare the outside of our home just to be safe, in case of embers,” said Christiansen, the OSU Extension forestry agent for Douglas County. “We brought in patio furniture and propane tanks, closed all the windows, and watered down all of the vegetation near our house. Within a couple of hours, we knew we didn’t need to worry about the French Creek fire threatening our home. That feeling of safety didn’t last long.”
By midmorning, Ben, who is a forester, heard on the fire radio that there were two new fires near the North Umpqua River near Highway 138 East – the Archie Creek and Star Mountain fires. As the crow flies, the Christiansens, who have a 4-month old son, Quincy, and two dogs, don’t live very far from where the Star Mountain Fire started.
“Ben told me to start packing and he would be heading home to help,” she said. “Around noon, it became very apparent that the Star Mountain Fire was growing rapidly. The Douglas County sheriff hadn’t issued any evacuation warnings yet, so we were comfortable taking our time packing all of the essentials and irreplaceable items. We also took the time to take photos and video of all our belongings left behind. We left in the early afternoon to go stay at a friend’s house in Roseburg.”
That evening, a Level 3 “go now” evacuation was ordered for Glide and the surrounding areas. The Archie Creek and Star Mountain fires merged into what is now called the Archie Creek Fire. The Christiansens are still in Roseburg. The fire has burned to the ridge opposite their house and crept down the hill in spots towards Little River, but it hasn’t crossed the river – yet.
“We have no clue how long we will be evacuated for,” she said. “This has been challenging and emotionally draining for us, especially since we have an infant. But we are all together and that’s the most important thing. Whatever happens, at least we have each other and know that our family and pets are safe.”
How punk changed cities – and vice versa
From New York to Jakarta, punks have long fought for their rights to the city. But just how much have they achieved – and will we ever see a mohawk in City Hall?
Last modified on Mon 3 Feb 2020 12.50 GMT
F rom its earliest beginnings, punk as a youth cult was viewed as a social nuisance in cities – irritating but tolerated. But the battle lines were truly drawn in what became a focal point for the nascent hardcore scene: early 1980s Los Angeles.
“LA was a sketchy place then,” recalled Dave Markey, whose 1982 documentary The Slog Movie captured the LA punk scene in all its raw, ragged glory. Speaking in a 2011 interview, Markey, who was a teenager at the time, added: “You wouldn’t walk down certain streets. But it was also like a playground for us.”
A mass cleanup was also under way in preparation for the 1984 Olympics, and the burgeoning, unsightly punk subculture was seen as a civic issue. “We’re trying to sanitise the area,” a police captain from the LAPD’s Olympic planning committee told the Los Angeles Times in the runup to the Games. At first, the police were focused on transients and other street-dwellers, whom they wanted to remove from the public eye. But the city’s punks quickly landed on their radar.
Concerts – legitimate and informal – were closed down with impunity. The emboldened LAPD rarely showed restraint, despite the young age of those they were battling. In fact, according to Henry Rollins, singer of LA punk flag-bearers Black Flag, it was the youthfulness and striking appearances of the punks that made them such a target. “I think this was one of the things that made the LAPD hate punks and assault them with regularity,” he would write nearly 30 years later. The song Police Story told its own tale: “This fucking city / Is run by pigs / They take the rights / Away from all the kids”, while Circle Jerk’s class-based disgust directed at the denizens of Beverly Hills (“All the people look the same / Don’t they know they’re so damn lame?”) doubled down on the rejection and isolation of those who felt they were being sidelined in Reagan’s America.
As a host of cultural historians will attest, punk never died, it just went underground. Mutating into hardcore, it retreated to the basements, the garages and the backstreet dives – but like a weed pushing through the cracks, it has fought to find its place in the hostile environment of the modern city. Punk’s hardcore iteration in the 1980s, unlike the attention-grabbing extroverts of the 1970s, was utilitarian, self-sufficient (or “DIY”, to use the movement’s lingua franca), and very much a product of its environment. Hardcore punks were a Suburban Disease, the Urban Waste, the Subterranean Kids. They spoke of Social Unrest, a Mad Society and URBN DK.
Henry Rollins of Black Flag in 1983. Photograph: Bob Chamberlin/LA Times via Getty Images
But while they wore those municipal scars as a badge of honour, they refused to be bound by them. First came the job of recasting their own environment. Then – as their confidence grew and the desire for social justice became more than just a slogan on a jacket – the cities themselves would need to change. For the politically minded and socially motivated punk, the collectivist principles of Crass, rather than the nihilism of the Sex Pistols, would reflect their actions.
The battles would be waged across the US – and the rest of the world, to a greater or lesser degree. Punks in Colombia and Indonesia, where run-ins with military death squads or sharia police were a daily occurrence for those sporting pink mohawks, could quite rightly scoff at Black Flag’s police issues. But in the west, while the stakes were rarely life and death, the struggles over who owned the city were just as fiery.
Of course, then as now, the fulcrum of punk and hardcore rested on the music. For the scene to survive, hardcore bands needed places to play – and in venues free from intervention by authority figures or age restrictions (in the US, the drinking age of 21 would exclude a good 80% of the audience).
This meant a cat-and-mouse game of searching out friendly or unsuspecting venues – school gymnasiums, social centres, youth clubs and even war veterans’ meeting halls – and playing the hell out of them until their welcome wore out. Given the unfettered, rowdy nature of the performances and audiences, it often wore out midway through the show: the authorities were often called, and Black Flag’s Police Story would be played out in microcosm.
Fans at a punk gig in Indonesia. Photograph: Karoline Collins
Something more concrete was needed. In the late 80s and early 90s, the scene’s dogged footsoldiers founded a series of autonomous spaces that have become global beacons of punk’s countercultural ethos: the 1 in 12 Club in Bradford Berkeley’s 924 Gilman Street New York’s ABC No Rio. Although primarily known for its function as a music venue, the 1 in 12 began life as a social club promoting anarchist values. Its four stories host a recording studio, bar, cafe and extensive library of anarchist texts. ABC No Rio offered a dark room, silk-screening facilities and a public computer lab in addition to hosting concerts, exhibitions and film screenings.
It’s somewhat surprising, then, that London has taken so long to establish its own autonomous space – and it was only due to the efforts of a small group that, in 2015, DIY Space for London was established.
“It was always about bringing the threads of music and activism back together in one space and seeing what could happen as a result,” says DIY Space co-founder Bryony Beynon of the culmination of a three-year fundraising campaign born of the eternal quest for a place to play music without interference.
The Brazilian punk band O Inimigo play at 924 Gilman Street, Berkeley, in 2012. Photograph: Karoline Collins
Tucked away in an unfashionable corner of south London, DIY Space for London seems safe for now – “The project is seriously enormous,” says Beynon, noting that they now have 6,000 members who run the venue collectively – but cities change.
When 924 Gilman Street was established in the dusty backstreets of Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-80s, it was hard to imagine that gentrification would ever become an issue. But as the tech industry boomed, those ugly warehouse districts suddenly became eminently desirable. Gilman Street found itself nestling alongside craft breweries, barbecue joints and – that vanguard of gentrification – a branch of Whole Foods. The venue’s future has only been secured by countless depositions to the local council, numerous benefit gigs and even the intervention of punk-rock millionaires Green Day.
Punk’s war against gentrification may be long lost in Manhattan’s East Village but one of its most notorious flashpoints is still celebrated. In 1988, Tompkins Square Park, home to a de facto homeless shelter, was the site of a protest – with punk bands performing – against the city’s plans to sanitise the streets, as LA had done a decade earlier. Responding to noise complaints, the police moved in. All hell broke loose.
Over two days, punks, protesters and bystanders battled with NYPD officers whose brutality was so well-documented – not least by poet Allen Ginsburg – that it led to condemnation by the New York Times and mayor Ed Koch. Sixteen years later, in 2004, a Tompkins Square anniversary concert – featuring the punk band Leftover Crack – was somewhat more in keeping with the newly rarified surroundings of the East Village: there was only one attempted arrest, for an open-container violation, and a minor scuffle between punks and cops. “It was a confrontation,” said a NYPD spokesperson when asked about it. “I don’t know if ‘riot’ is the right word.”
Modern-day Washington DC, too, has found itself reliving one of the more infamous chapters of its rich punk history. Activist Robin Bell projected the phrase “Experts agree: Trump Is a Pig” on to the side of the Trump International hotel – a nod to the notorious 1987 poster campaign of Jeff Nelson, drummer of Minor Threat (the band that gave the world “straight edge”, the drug and alcohol-eschewing sub-group of hardcore punk).
Nelson and his cohorts, outraged by the conservative endeavours of Reagan wingman Edwin Meese, covered the city with posters declaring: “Experts agree: Meese Is a Pig”, prompting bemused conversations in many a Beltway office. Then 6,000 T-shirts were printed and sold, one of which became the subject of an ACLU legal threat when a bike messenger wearing it was denied entry into the Justice Department.
A man is taken away on a stretcher after New York’s Tompkins Square Park riots in 1988. Photograph: New York Daily News Archive/Getty
Nelson’s slogan was knitted into DC’s collective consciousness. Looking back now, he says: “Everyone was convinced we had engineered the whole thing, but we had nothing to do with it. The whole thing had a life of its own.” It sums up the essence of punk activism in cities – a rock thrown into a still pond to see how far the ripples carry. At its most potent, those ripples become waves.
One of those rocks has been Beynon’s work creating Good Night Out, a campaign that encourages bars and venues to tackle and prevent harassment. It’s an idea that has spread from south London to North America. “Watching the campaign grow from a few conversations has been amazing,” she says. “When you’re indoctrinated as a teenager to [punk’s] idea that you can do anything and get away with it, it’s hard not to have this leak into other areas of your life.”
Similarly, Zoe Dodd, a harm reduction worker and veteran of Toronto’s punk scene, made headlines last year when – shocked by a 327% increase in overdose deaths since 2008 – she set up a drug harm reduction workshop in Faith/Void, the city’s autonomous punk space. It was a triumph of DIY ethics and has already been emulated in Montreal and Vancouver.
Minor Threat’s drummer Jeff Nelson helped spread the 1980s slogan attacking Reagan wingman Edwin Meese in 2016 the phrase saw new life. Photograph: Alamy/Life/Getty
In Indonesia, the folk-punk collective Marjinal have taken this philosophy to the streets of Jakarta: they turned their suburban rented house into an art collective, creating works on their front lawn to reassure neighbours that the urges of these tattooed punks with the strange haircuts were creative rather than destructive. They hand out musical instruments to street kids, hoping to instil in them a sense of purpose and prevent them from being drawn into the cycles of drugs and prostitution.
All this is done despite persecution from authorities who, in some of the more conservative areas of the country, have no problem rounding up punks, shaving their heads and sending them off to sharia boot camps. When I met Marjinal during a tour of Japan, they were raising money to establish – what else? – a music venue. The locations and languages may change, but the struggles are universal.
And they continue. At the turn of the year, activists working for Food Not Bombs – an organisation with close ties to the punk scene through benefit gigs and record sales – were arrested for helping to feed the homeless in Florida. The story spread like wildfire across social media, and the resulting outcry resulted in Tampa authorities vowing to change bylaws concerning community outreach programmes. In the 21st century, street-level punk activism finds traction in the realm of social media just as much as it does on the streets proper.
It has also made inroads into establishment politics. Jello Biafra, former frontman of the Dead Kennedys, started the trend in 1979 when he ran for mayor of San Francisco. Part prank, part publicity stunt, Biafra’s campaign saw him gain more column inches than votes, but the die was cast.
Bob Barley, owner of punk and noise record label Vinyl Communications, ran for mayor in his home town of Chula Vista, campaigning on an anti-big business, pro-local business platform. “To me, running for mayor was the equivalent of putting out an LP. That was the punkest thing I could do,” he said. “I came fifth out of 11 candidates … ahead of a pro-life guy who was endorsed by the Republican party.”
But the real punk-politics success story belongs to Doc Dart, singer of the Crucifucks (not something widely publicised during his campaign), who ran for mayor in Lansing, Michigan in 1989. The distant third in a 50-50 race between two establishment candidates, he realised that he held the balance of power with the thousand or so votes he’d drummed up – so he traded his endorsement for the promise of a rape crisis centre being created in the city, the issue he originally ran on.
County mulls public nuisance laws
Chairman Mark Marion listens to a resident speak about a public nuisance complaint during open forum. Later the board heard a proposed nuisance ordinance from the county staff.
DOBSON &mdash County officials heard from one department director about a proposed chapter of ordinances that would address public nuisances, but might go too far.
Imagine living in a far-out rural area of Surry County (say Lowgap or Devotion) and having a county inspector come to see how many four-wheelers and gas cans are on the property. Or having a business in mill-sawn lumber, scrap metal or used car parts, and being told that these items are suddenly considered solid waste and must be removed.
These types of items are included in Chapter 92 of the proposed ordinance changes mentioned at a meeting this week of the Surry County Board of Commissioners.
During that meeting, the public in attendance heard that the county had reorganized a few of its services. There is now a Development Services Department that includes planning, zoning, permits, building code applications, and code enforcement.
Johnny Easter, the development services director, introduced the changes to the board.
He said the county has needed regulations on trash and abandoned homes for years. Some state statutes give the county certain abilities to handle these circumstances, but the county has never passed its own set of laws for the public to know and follow.
Easter gave an example. There have been times when a house or mobile home has been abandoned for years. The taxes haven&rsquot been paid, and the tax office struggles to even track down the owner of record to send a bill.
&ldquoWe use every avenue we possibly can, and this is a last resort,&rdquo said Easter. While Section 92.03 lists things that are prohibited, Section 92.06 addresses how the county would investigate and respond, then 92.07 covers costs and reimbursements. The county can issue citations, put liens on property, even charge someone with a misdemeanor for failure to act on citations.
Section 92.03 has a lengthy list of things which would be prohibited, such unsecured garbage, accumulations of rubbish or junk that might be deemed dangerous, breeding grounds for mosquitoes, abandoned structures declared &ldquounsafe to occupy.&rdquo
The section would ban animal feces, rotting lumber, packing materials, scrap metal, wooden pallets, construction materials (including bricks and blocks), pipes, tools, machinery, tires/wheels, appliances and more.
Cars and trucks would be &ldquojunked motor vehicles&rdquo if they lacked a current registration or restoration permit. Anyone living in an RV would have to be connected to electricity, water and sewer/septic services.
After looking at the document and hearing Easter&rsquos initial comments, the board members chimed in.
&ldquoAre we staffed enough to handle the complaints … that could be called in?&rdquo asked Commissioner Larry Johnson.
Easter said for the majority of complaints that come in, the department already has the ability and the necessary tools to take care of the problem.
Referring to the proposed changes, Easter said, &ldquoThese are (for) the complaints that we get noncompliance.&rdquo
&ldquoIs it necessary? Do we need it?&rdquo asked Johnson.
&ldquoI think so. From this standpoint, as county officials I think it&rsquos our duty to be good stewards of the county that we deal with and what we do on a day-to-day basis. I don&rsquot like having a conversation with someone out there saying, &lsquoI&rsquom sorry, ma&rsquoam. We&rsquove done everything we can. I don&rsquot know what else we can do.&rsquo&rdquo
&ldquoThis is not a minimum housing standard,&rdquo Easter added. &ldquoWe&rsquore not going to be policing the community with this. We&rsquore going to assess how this affects the community, how it affects Surry County as a whole. If it doesn&rsquot meet this criteria, then … we&rsquore not going to use this.&rdquo
&ldquoJust for instance, we got a call where someone had moved away from a home. It was bags and bags of garbage they had put in the front yard. So we got complaints. … Through tax records, search, the owner lived in Connecticut.
&ldquoWe could not reach the owner. We could not get anyone to clean the trash up. We don&rsquot have right of entry to go into the property. This would allow us to post the property, to work through the ordinance to say, &lsquoOkay, we&rsquove done everything we can. You&rsquore not getting back to us. We&rsquore going to take the onus we&rsquore going the clean the property up at their expense.&rsquo&rdquo
Commissioner Eddie Harris said county officials have always been taxed with the burden of serving people who live in &ldquoa semi-metropolitan area&rdquo like the area around a town while also serving people who live in a rural community and &ldquoexpect a limited role of government and the right to do as they see fit on their own personal property.&rdquo
That&rsquos one of the reasons that ETJs were established, he noted. The extraterritorial jurisdictions let towns and cities treat the area around their boundaries like they would their municipal domain.
&ldquoYes, we do get a lot of complaints from folks, and it tends to be folks who are living closer to each other,&rdquo Harris said. It&rsquos problematic to try to paint the whole county with the same paintbrush.
Harris picked up on Easter saying the department wouldn&rsquot have to seek out violations, but rather act on complaints.
&ldquoPeople tend to squeal on their neighbors,&rdquo he cautioned. If someone gets into a squabble with a neighbor, they will be complaining to the county about each other back and forth, escalating tensions.
Harris said he has a great deal of sympathy for the residents who live next door to a nuisance, but, he has trouble with some of the language in the ordinance.
Commissioner Van Tucker said he had some of the same concerns as Harris.
&ldquoI think we need some type of public nuisance ordinance, probably better than we&rsquove had,&rdquo he said. But, he said he was a little reluctant to jump on board with this many pages of ordinances.
Some parts of the county are city living with four municipalities, he said. &ldquoSome parts of our county are full of chicken houses and farms and rabbit cages and chickens and junk cars. What I might call a junk car might be somebody else&rsquos prize possession.&rdquo
He said he didn&rsquot care for the verbiage about a vehicle being called junk if it doesn&rsquot have a current tag on it. Nor does he like the idea of creating these laws and then feeling obligated to enforce them on someone in a complicated situation.
&ldquoOur duty becomes whatever our ordinance is,&rdquo he said.
Tucker said it would behoove the board to study this issue more. He said he hadn&rsquot even seen the proposal before it showed up in his meeting packet a few days earlier. He said he had some questions about what some of the language means before he could give an approval.
Chairman Mark Marion agreed with Tucker, saying some parts of the nine-page document were a little wordy and difficult to follow.
&ldquoI do believe we need a nuisance ordinance in Surry,&rdquo said Marion. There are a lot of parts in the document, but he doesn&rsquot want to see something passed that would prohibit farmers from doing what they need to do.
Commissioner Johnson said he didn&rsquot believe the issue was brought up as pressing and needed to be voted upon that night, so the board could consider it until the next meeting, which comes in January.
Some Galax Trail residents had complained during open session about a neighbor creating a &ldquomini-farm&rdquo in a residential area. Marion looked at those citizens and said he wasn&rsquot even sure if these changes would address the issues they are facing.
&ldquoIs there a specific part in this ordinance that would help their situation?&rdquo he asked Easter.
Easter said there could be some environmental aspects that would come up. But, it doesn&rsquot affect complaints about barking or what goes on inside their house.
&ldquoThose folks on Galax Trail that had the animals, if they were wanting to run a farm, they should have gone out in the country and bought a farm,&rdquo said Harris.
Commissioner Bill Goins said, &ldquoWe want to make sure this helps people, it&rsquos not a hindrance.&rdquo
There are valid points on both sides. As a property owner Goins understands not wanting someone telling him what to do with his land. On the other side, because he owns land, he wants to protect his property value and not have to put up with a bad situation next door like what he saw on Galax Trail.
The board took no action this week. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the county board would be Jan. 4.
Fox16 Good Day Super Bowl recipes
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Are you looking for some new snacks to serve while watching the Super Bowl?
The Fox16 Good Day crew wants to help!
Be sure to try out the recipes below.
Ashlei King’s pick- Honey Sriracha Glazed Meatballs
For the meatballs:
- 2 lb. lean ground turkey
- 1 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- *Note: You can also use pre-cooked meatballs found in the frozen section
- 1/4 cup Sriracha
- 3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together turkey, breadcrumbs, eggs, green onions, garlic powder and salt and pepper until well combined. Shape mixture into small balls and place spaced apart on prepared baking sheets lightly sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned and cooked through
- While the meatballs are baking, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking continuously. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken. Toss the meatballs with the sauce
Pat Walker’s pick- Sausage Balls
2 Cups Bisquick
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 lb. Breakfast Sausage1 tsp. Cumin1 tbs. water
Pour all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and start kneading it into one consistent ball of dough. Then, start preheating oven to 350°. Break off pieces of dough and hand roll into small bite-size pieces. Place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for around 15 minutes. Baking time may vary based on how cold your ingredients are and how many sausage balls you have cooking at one time. Let sit for about 5 minutes before removing the sausage balls with a metal spatula. Enjoy! Served best fresh from the oven.
Carmen Rose’s pick- Pigs in a Blanket
3 cans of butter crescent rolls
2 packages of Lil Smokies
Preheat oven to 370°FOpen the crescent roll can and unroll dough on a cutting board
Cut the triangles in half to give you smaller blanketsRoll the Lil smokie from the base of the triangle (wider end) to cover the whole “pig”
Place the pigs n blankets on a greased or non-stick pan in the ovenBake for 10-13 minutes
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