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Community wants Starke County officials to clean up problem properties

NORTH JUDSON, Ind. -- People living in one Starke County community say their neighborhood has become a dumping ground. Abandoned cars, trailers and garbage liter some properties.

This is the second time people living in the area known as the Born’s Trailer Park reached out to ABC57 for help. Three years ago they had a similar problem with some abandoned property. That problem was resolved, but now they say this situation is worse.

Mark Zimmerle drove me around his neighborhood with frustration.

“Never has touched his grass since I’ve been here," said Zimmerle pointing out a problem property.

In addition to a few overgrown yards, there was also a burned down house that has been left totally exposed for over two weeks.

“The place needs a cleaning up period," said Zimmerle.

He’s lived in the Born’s Trailer park just outside of North Judson for five years.

He says in that time he’s watched things get progressively worse.

"I’ve seen trailers being stripped," said Zimmerle. "Aluminum taken off the trailers stripped out. Junk cars. It’s horrible.

It wasn’t long into our drive until we saw exactly what he was talking about.

Neighbors say one trailer has been sitting vaccant and torn apart since November despite several attempts to have it cleaned up. They’re worried if something isn’t done soon someone will get hurt.

"I caught two kids playing in that trailer and I shagged them out of there," Zimmerle recounted. "I said, this is no place to be playing because it’s dangerous."

According to property records, the owner of that lot is listed as Sescoe Wireman. He died in 2015. Since then neighbors say the lot has become a dumping ground for several cars and trailers like this.

ABC57 reached out to Starke County Planning Commissioner Terry Stephonson to find out who is now responsible for the property.

Stephenson said in an email, "Our office has a procedure that we have to follow. Now we are trying to contact nearest relatives, with no success as of yet."

During our drive Zimmerle introduced us to other neighbors who shared his concerns, but were scared to go on camera. Many said they’re afraid to even raise concerns at public meetings.

They’re afraid their house is going to get vandalized after they say what’s going on out here. They’re scared.

They’re also scared if the neighborhood isn’t cleaned up their problems will only get worse. Neighbors say they’ve even noticed an increase in drug activity in the area.

Zimmerle says he knows the sheriff’s department can’t be there all the time, but would like to see them a little more.

"There’s things they can do by patrolling out here a little bit more," said Zimmerle. "Showing the people hey we’re here. I think that will help."

ABC57 did speak with Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin, who said that area has historically been a high volume area for calls, but they’ve not seen any recent spikes.

The planning commissioner says anyone with concerns is welcome at their monthly meeting held the third wednesday of every month at 53 E. Mound Street, Knox, IN. 46534.

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