Group, city to help Opp resident

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A group of about a dozen concerned residents met on Tuesday to discuss providing aid to a man who lives at a residence abated by the Opp City Council Monday night.

Monday’s abatement was the fourth since 2013 for the 402 Charles St. property, and Jerry McCormick has been given 30 days to provide the city a plan of action to repair the property.

Former Mayor H.D. Edgar led a charge on Tuesday to help McCormick repair his property.

“We had a dozen people show up at the meeting,” he said. “We plan to get permission and find out what needs to be done.”

Edgar said the group will meet again on Thursday to develop a plan, and will have its first workday on Saturday.

Edgar said many local churches and residents participate in overseas and countrywide missions, but that there’s a need in Opp.

“There are a lot of missions here that need to be addressed,” he said. “This property has no lights and no water, and right now the man is staying with someone.”

Edgar said he hopes to get citizens together to tackle some other projects in the city to help people.

“I decided Monday night this is something we needed to do,” he said. “We need something similar to Habitat for Humanity that helps those in this city. We want to help people get to a better point.”

District 2 Councilman TD Morgan is also involved in the mission. In September, Morgan helped clean up the outside of the home. Morgan said at the time he hoped to get a friend to donate windows for the home.

Morgan said Tuesday he got a waiver from the owner to repair the house at no cost to her.

Morgan said at Monday’s council meeting that McCormick “does not have the mental capability to make a case.”

Edgar said McCormick utilizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is working to receive disability benefits.

“This fella can’t read or write,” he said. “So we’re going to try to help him.”

Tuesday afternoon City Inspector Wanda Summers said she was working to help McCormick, as well.

“My thing is to get him help,” she said. “We have to take care of our citizens. We want to save the man, and if we can save the house – hooray.”

Opp Mayor John Bartholomew agreed the city didn’t like abating properties “anymore than anyone else.”

“If we get a lot of complaints, we bring it up,” he said. “T.D. wanted to clean it up, and it’s continued not to be fixed and neighbors kept complaining.”

Bartholomew said neighbors are calling in and verbally reporting the complaints, and that they are saying they are scared of retaliation from their council member.

Bartholomew questioned why McCormick’s sister and stepmother left him “to himself, and why haven’t they helped.”

“It didn’t get like this overnight,” he said.

Summers said she wants to work with McCormick.

“We don’t want to tear down the guy’s house, but work with people,” she said. “We are trying to find him help. He doesn’t want to lose his house.”

Summers contacted Adult Protective Services, a branch of the Department of Human Resources, to seek help for McCormick.

She said Covington County DHR is working to get him a case worker.

Summers said one of the main concerns from neighbors is that the appraisal for his house — $17,670 – has lowered property values.

“I’ve been trying to work on this for a year,” she said. “That’s why this morning, I decided to call APS.”

Summers said that the 402 Charles St. property isn’t the only one that is dilapidated.

“We have one on 602 Maude Ave. in District 1,” she said. “It should be in foreclosure. The gentleman who owned it passed way, and we are working with the mortgage company. We take them case by case.”

Bartholomew said there are others in disarray, and Summers goes out and investigates them.


-Brittany DeLong contributed to this report.