Photo by Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald-Star
On May 22, Hot Springs Bison football player Logan Halls helped organize an effort to cleanup a portion of Fall River that was adopted by the Bison Booster Club as part of Keep Hot Springs Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup.
By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – “Spring Cleaning” time continues in Hot Springs as multiple groups are working in conjunction to ensure the community is looking its best – which includes a concentrated effort to identify and address nuisance ordinance violations.
Scott Sogge, the City of Hot Springs’ Building Inspector, recently announced an effort he is calling “Clean Sweep,” which revisits and revitalizes a program that began a few years ago, prior to Sogge taking the position in 2018.
Sogge said he is currently working on a pamphlet to better explain the program to city residents, but at its core is an effort by himself to go from ward-to-ward, and door-to-door and talk to homeowners who are in violation of city nuisance ordinances and then offer his guidance and assistance in bringing their property up to snuff.
“My plan is to identify each property by taking a block-by-block survey with photos,” Sogge said Monday in an email to the newspaper. “I will then fill out the offenses in detail on the inside of the handout and give it to the homeowner or resident. I will offer a time frame to have the property cleaned up. If they don’t agree, refuse or make no attempt, we will bring in a clean-up crew clean up the property and assess their property.”
Sogge said that a cleanup crew hired by the city could become very expensive for the homeowner, which is why he will probably need to quote the approximate costs to the residents.
He also mentioned the possibility of listing the property owners’ names in the newspaper after a reasonable time of notice and gather comments from neighbors.
“This is not a short term project this will need to continue until we have achieved our goal,” Sogge noted, as he emphasized his intentions of not letting these violations fall through the cracks and not be addressed.
He said currently there are approximately 20 residences in the community on his radar, with about three or four of those on the top of the list because of extreme nuisance violations. The main things that stand out and make the properties an eyesore for neighbors include old vehicles in their yard or right-of-way, household and yard waste, building materials and construction waste.
Sogge has begun communicating with a few of the landowners and is making progress. One family, he said, has been taking big steps in cleaning up their yard and was simply waiting for the Free Dump Week to dispose of about 10 pickup loads of things.
Thankfully, the Free Dump Week is now upon us, so all Hot Springs City Residents have the opportunity now to June 5 to take items to the dump free of charge, to help do their part to keep their property looking good.
Hours of the Dump Week are Monday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m to 3 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Either a City of Hot Springs utility bill or a piece of mail dated within the last 30 days is needed to show proof of residency. Eligible participants are allowed unlimited loads so long as the waste being disposed of is from the residences only – waste from commercial activities will not be accepted. Items not being accepted included tires, paint, cardboard, clothing, plastic bags, paper or household trash. Appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers can be accepted, but only if they have been emptied of freon and are appropriately tagged as such.
In addition to Clean Sweep and Free Dump Week programs being implemented by the City of Hot Springs, the volunteer organization Keep Hot Springs Beautiful (KHSB) has also been very busy over the past few weeks in fulfilling the mission which is their namesake.
The organization recently completed its “Great American Clean-up,” which normally is held on a single day in May, but this year was spread out over the three-week period to allow volunteers more time to perform their duties while still practicing safe social distancing due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
“Hopefully people have noticed that the downtown street corner pods are looking beautiful and that litter has been picked up in the river,” said KHSB President Beth Spitzer, in relation to the community-wide efforts as part of the Great American Cleanup. “All 26 pods are adopted as well as the seven sections of the river.”
During Great American Clean up, which was held from May 9 – 23, Spitzer said they had at least 64 people who worked during that timeframe, based on those who reported their hours to her.
“That is approximately 256 hours of volunteer work!” Spritzer exclaimed. “We are so grateful to the community for doing this good work. I have a feeling there were more people working that I don’t know about. We continue to encourage people to take a plastic bag with them when they go out to walk and pick up litter as they go. This will make a tremendous difference to keeping Hot Springs looking beautiful.”
One KHSB event that was canceled in April due to COVID-19 was the Super Recycling Event, Spitzer said, which would normally be one of the events they do to keep things clean by providing a place for people to bring things they no longer want. Their next one is scheduled for Sept. 12.
“Coming up in July, we hope to finally hold our many-times-delayed Earth Day Rummage Sale,” Spitzer added. “This will be another opportunity for people to donate items that they no longer want that are in good condition and clean.” She added however that no clothes, TVs, computers or mattresses accepted.
The drop off day will be Friday, July 17 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mueller Civic Center gym and the rummage sale will be Saturday, July 18 from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. “We hope people will come and shop on Saturday because we expect this sale to be a large one,” Spitzer stated. “We are always astounded by the wonderful things that are brought to our sale; we have had antiques and working tools donated in the past that have sold quickly, for example.”