KINGSPORT — Volunteers spent three days last week helping an elderly woman clean up her property. They mowed the yard, removed debris from the front porch and cleared vines from along the fence line.
When all the work was done, the property looked much better. More importantly, the property was in compliance with city code. These were people who helped a neighbor even though they’re weren’t technically neighbors.
And that’s kind of the point, members of the Kingsport Neighborhood Commission said on the first day of the cleanup last week.
“The theme for the neighborhood commission this year is ‘neighbors helping neighbors,’ ” said Jamie Jackson, chair of the commission.
“We asked the city for nominations of people who needed yard work, so if we can get to somebody’s yard, give them a helping hand and show Kingsport how easy it could be to really help your neighbor in a big way by doing something small.”
COMING INTO COMPLIANCE
The neighbor helped by the commission was Wanda Montgomery, a 75-year-old woman who has lived in her Lynn Garden home for 73 years. For the longest time, Montgomery said she has been able to take care of her yard, but in recent years she’s just not been able to keep up, nor has she been able to find someone to keep the grass mowed.
“I just wasn’t able to do it anymore, so when (the neighborhood commission) came along it was like a blessing from God,” Montgomery said.
The work was just too much for one person to handle, and the condition of the yard was getting the attention of Kingsport’s code enforcement department. Three notices were recently put on Montgomery’s door about her property being in violation.
Weeds and grass more than 12 inches in height are a code violation in the city. Vines growing on outside structures and visible non-running vehicles on a property are also violations. Montgomery had all three going on at her house.
“It’s a little out of control and it’s been a while since all of these things have been growing,” said Suzanne Burns, vice chair of the neighborhood commission.
WORK TAKING PLACE
About a dozen volunteers came to work at Montgomery’s home on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week, clearing the vines, removing debris and mowing the yard. By Saturday, the property looked much better.
Burns said this effort was a one-time project meant to show the people of Kingsport how easy it is for residents to help out their fellow neighbors.
“That was our intention, to try and encourage neighbors to look out for their other neighbors who aren’t able to get to some of the things that a lot of us can get to,” Burns said.
“We’re trying to get it back in place and out of violation,” Jackson added. “We’re trying to alleviate the code violations and give her back a house she can be happy to sit on the front porch.”
Volunteers were also planning to see if they could get any money out of the two non-running vehicles on Montgomery’s property and set her up with someone who could routinely mow the yard.
Borne out of the One Kingsport initiative in 2015, the neighborhood commission is a 12-member group that advises the city and promotes efforts to strengthen the neighborhoods of Kingsport. Members meet the last Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. in city hall. The meetings are open to the public, and residents are encouraged to attend to share their thoughts and concerns.