Crime

Town tackles graffiti issue

By Clint Parker

Woodfin – The Town of Woodfin’s Board of Aldermen soldiered on without an out-of-town Mayor Jerry VeHaun Tuesday night (Nov. 19), who was away on business.

Mayor Pro-Tem Debbie Giezentanner was voted to stand in for the mayor and the meeting got under way with hearing from any of the citizens who wanted to speak during public comment. A couple did, on a proposed voluntary annexation of a non-contiguous property at 810 Elk Mountain Scenic Highway, which was on the agenda to consider. The two were residents of the road and were hoping to inform the aldermen of the circumstances surrounding their request.

Woodfin Police Evidence Custodian Ricayla Harris
Woodfin Police Evidence Custodian Ricayla Harris

After some discussion by the aldermen, the board passed a resolution establishing a public hearing for the annexation at the December meeting.
The board also passed an ordinance for controlling graffiti within the town limits. The law makes it a misdemeanor to apply graffiti to public or private property.

Before the vote there was some debate over the amount of the civil fine for the crime, which started out at $200 and went as high as $1,000 per incident which does count the criminal penalty that includes a minimal fine of $500 and up to 24 hours of community service depending on the offender’s record.

Alderman Don Hensley wanted the maximum fine allowable by law on first-time offender, which is $1,000. “I wouldn’t have a problem starting at a thousand…I want to put some teeth into it.” Alderman Ronnie Lunsford agreed, saying, “Make them think about it.”

The ordinance also calls for speedy removal of the graffiti by the town or private property owner and sets aside money to help property owners with clean up of graffiti.

In the end, the board voted to start the civil penalty at $500. They further directed Woodfin Town Administrator Jason Young to prepare an ordinance for the next meeting to allow the civil fine collect to go toward clean up of the graffiti. Young said the civil penalty was not for a revenue stream anyway but to help with clean-up and penalize the offender.
The town then heard reports from the different departments starting with the police department, during which time Woodfin Chief Michael Dykes introduced the new Evidence Custodian Ricayla Harris who is still working toward her certification and getting the department evidence room in order. Harris previously worked with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department, where she was an assistant evidence custodian.

Young reported that the town would be rolling out a new stormwater ordinance soon, and the town spent 18 hours patching potholes, some of which are on roads and streets maintained by the state.

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