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Farwell ordinance enforcement garners positive feedback

CNJ staff writer: Sharna Johnson Tim Martin, Farwell's newest police officer, is on a mission to red-tag code violations in his community. The tags come with a 10-day deadline to correct issues before a citation is issued.

Farwell’s newest police officer, Tim Martin, has been busy hanging red tags and issuing warnings in the near three months since he came to town — even the mayor got one for weeds in his alley.

The renewed focus on ordinance enforcement is paying off and gaining positive feedback from the community, he said.

Martin, who relocated from Louisiana, said he has issued nearly 200 red tag door hangers and warnings to residents and businesses in town.

“It’s starting to look cleaner around here,” he said. “The majority of it’s been real positive.”

Serving as animal control, code enforcement and police officer, Martin was hired to replace the former code enforcement/animal control officer, who died a few months ago, Police Chief Larry Kelsay said.

“It kind of went downhill because nobody was doing it,” Kelsay said.

Farwell Mayor Jimmy Mace said the effect of the vacancy could be seen throughout the small, west Texas town.

“There was a drastic change in that short period of time,” Mace said. “We just needed to hire another person to take care of his job.”

And fusing the position with a needed police officer made a perfect fit, he said.

Mace laughingly said even he received a warning from Martin when the weeds in his alley grew too tall.

“He was right, and I took care of it, and that’s what he should have done,” he said.

Kelsay said the decision was made to fuse the three positions and bring them under the management of the police department — animal control and code enforcement were formerly an independent city functions — to maximize the efficiency and give the officer the power to issue citations.

Previously the code enforcement officer had to get police to issue citations, adding another step to the process.

And combining the positions is more cost-effective, Kelsay said.

Martin said he juggles the responsibilities of the three roles, responding to calls, dealing with animal issues and checking for code violations throughout his duty day.

When he sees a violation, he either makes contact with the occupant of the property and issues a written warning or if no one is home, hangs a red warning tag on the door.

“Some of it’s real minor,” he said, from grass taller than 12 inches and weeds to junk and inoperable vehicles.

Residents have 10 days to correct the issues from the date of the warning, he said, explaining overwhelmingly people have complied.

If at the end of the warning period the infraction isn’t corrected, a citation is issued and fines can range from $160 to $2,000 depending on the nature of the violation.

But Martin said so far he has written fewer than six citations and most people have complied with the warning.

Kelsay said he is pleased with the results of the efforts and the community is already beginning to look better.

“We’re just trying to make it look nicer and a little more pleasant for everybody,” he said. “It’s a slow process but it’s getting there.”

Martin said the intent of the ordinances is to retain property values and quality of life for residents of Farwell.