Newport's 'petty patrol' cracks down on city ordinances

Nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River lies Newport, a quiet community where residential streets are bordered by large trees, beautiful homes and houses that some say stick out like eyesores. 

For the first time in 10 years, by the order of the City Council, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department is cracking down on city ordinances, including everything from broken down cars in yards to unkempt houses. 

“We do have a number of homes that could use improvement and are having a negative impact on the neighborhood,” said Newport Mayor Dan Lund. 

Deputies are zeroing in on a number of code violations ranging from inoperable vehicles, to peeling paint on homes, to overgrown weeds and grass and the exterior storage of personal property. 

“The city recognizes that it’s hard on everyone, but at the same time it’s not an option to do nothing,” Lund said. 

Jerry Gamer has lived in the community for more than 40 years. He said a vehicle parked outside just a few doors from his house hasn’t been moved in years. 

“You’ve got to clean it up or the neighborhood goes downhill,” Gamer said.

“I want to live in a clean neighborhood, walk my dog in a nice neighborhood and not have to deal with things that I shouldn’t have to,” said Amanda Shirley, a Newport resident. 

Authorities have found more than 70 violations so far this month. A warning is issued and if the issue isn’t resolved within two weeks, residents are fined. 

While some have criticized the plan for being overly aggressive, many residents welcome the tougher enforcement. 

“Well you’re never going to make everybody happy right?” Lund said. “So the balance doesn’t mean that everybody gets what they want, it means as a community we come together and figure out what’s best for our community and that’s really what we’re trying to do.” 

Washington County Sheriff’s deputies will focus on each ordinance over the next few months. A violation could lead to a petty misdemeanor charge.