Fireworks At Public Hearing In Rusk County

"Infringing on their rights." Those angry words were expressed by nearly 400 Rusk County residents who spoke tonight against a proposed abatement ordinance. Commissioners were voting on whether to adopt rules about trash on private property. Rules that are stricter than current state laws.

Immediately once the public hearing got started, so did the accusations against commissioners.

"Are ya'll going to clean up the stuff that ya'll own too," says Reklaw Mayor Charlie Glenn. He says everyday he passes a building that's a nuisance. "Just so happens Rusk County owns it," he continued. The crowd then erupted in laughter. "If you don't tear your building down, don't come on my property," warns Glenn.

Under the ordinance, residents could be fined if they live in homes littered with trash, within 300 feet of a public street. That 300 foot rule was a popular source of argument.

"If a feller has an idea that he's going to come 300 foot onto my property, he better have a bigger gun that I've got," that warning came from Roy Cole.

Cindy Smith was only one of three who spoke in favor. "You can't have anything or even get your land value to go up if when you first pull down the road it's a dump site."

But some argued, paying to have their trash hauled away can get costly. "May make the difference between them paying an electric bill or putting gas in that car to go to work," says Stanley Peters.

After an hour and half, the commissioners were ready to vote whether to adopt the ordinance. It passed three to two.

The crowd erupted, one person yelling, "anybody got a rope?"

Many of the residents told us they will remember tonight's vote when the current commissioners come up for re-election.

Amy Tatum, reporting.