Trashing East Texas

It's such an eyesore, neighbors have actually tried to buy a piece of property from a man who is Trashing East Texas. The property is in the 3400 block of FM 17, just south of FM 779 near Mineola in Wood County. The owners home burned down last August. Since then, it's become a dump site for everything from used tires to broken down travel trailers.

Freddie Swoape lives next door.

"I was raised in the country all my life, and I didn't want to go to the city. We bought this land over here, and I said, 'Well, I'll just build my house here."

Swoape has more than a dozen cows, and four stock tanks where his grandkids love to go fishing, but he says his country living is being ruined by this messy neighbor.

"They're bringing in cars everyday. They had raw sewage going into the ground at one time. I'm scared to death to let the kids go and play on it, because we don't know what's coming off of it onto our property," Swoape said. 
Deborah Melton says the problem got worse after the house caught fire last year.

"There was a lot of debris, but pretty much everybody stayed in the house. There weren't all the junk cars and the travel trailers. Now, there are travel trailers, there's no septic, just debris everywhere," Melton said.

Deborah has called the Wood County Sheriff's Department several times. Sheriff Dwaine Daugherty says a trash abatement was issued. Since the homeowner didn't come into compliance, they are going to the justice of the peace for a citation.

"At a certain point, it will be turned over to the county judge, and they can put a levy on the property, to sell the property to pay for the clean up," Daugherty said.

The sheriff says this house is just one of many in the county.

"It's a pretty large problem because of all the narcotics in this area. You just got a lot of trashy people that don't care to keep their places clean," Daugherty said.

Neighbors say they just want the owner to clean up the land, so it looks more like a pasture and less like a junkyard.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: