County Cracks Down on Run-Down Properties

We've all heard you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Liberty County has taken that phrase to heart and to its highways. They're asking owners of empty, run-down mobile homes to clean up or else.

Broken windows hide behind overgrown weeds. Rust creeps from the roof down the walls. Homes like these dot the roadways of Liberty County. Bobby Anderson's wasn't as bad as those, but he got a letter from Liberty County telling him to shape it up or ship it out.

"I took a look at it myself and I said, 'They're telling the truth,'" he said. "I can't kick on that. I went to work remodeling."

Anderson's sprucing up what's become a storage trailer and working on his home. The county's crackdown is part of a plan to clean up along Liberty's main roadways.

If you ride through Fleming on Highway 196, you can't help but see the run-down homes. County leaders say if you're a visitor who might move here or bring a business here, that's the last thing they want you to see.

"We had about 29 or 30 of those when we started," said county manager Joey Brown. "We had seven, eight owners do things themselves. The rest we start handling today."

Brown says the county warns owners with notices to remodel or remove the homes in the next month or so, or the county will do it for them and they'll owe the county for the work.

To Bobby Anderson, it sounds harsh, but he told us, "If the mobile home looked like mine did and they're not going to do anything with them or live in them, it's a good idea to move them."

Brown says the county may be able to help owners with a payment plan for the removal costs if they cooperate.

This is the first step in a cleanup plan that will include other dilapidated homes, abandoned cars and makeshift junk yards on what Brown called the doorsteps of the community.

Reported by: Dal Cannady,