In the News: City says: Take pride in Russellville

Originally published in the Franklin County Times.

The city of Russellville this week announced its new Take Pride Initiative.

Initiative is defined as “an act or strategy intended to resolve a difficulty or improve a situation; a fresh approach to something.” That fresh approach in Russellville is a revamped focus on cleanliness and beautification in the city, backed by a desire to Take Pride in the community.

Councilman Arthur Elliott and Mayor David Grissom have worked together with Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett and other city officials and employees to develop a plan to beautify the city of Russellville. This initiative revolves around addressing situations like fire codes not being followed, property not being cleaned up and buildings falling into disrepair.

“We have complaints come in every day, so we decided to make a plan,” Elliott said.

Twice a week, a team comprising of fire marshal Justin Green, compliance officer Lt. Brian Shackelford and building inspector Bill Fuller will meet and go around the city to appraise what needs to be done to clean it up, talking with homeowners to explain ordinances regarding different property aspects. They will then take the appropriate actions to make sure progress in these areas is being maintained.

Green will handle fire and life safety codes; Shackelford will address lawn upkeep; and Fuller will handle building compliance issues – while all, of course, will be involved with any issue that comes to light, crossover problems being handled as appropriate.

City officials said it’s a new day in Russellville, and compliance is going to be addressed equally across all districts. “It’s going to be done across the board,” Fire Chief Joe Mansell said. “We’re going to treat everybody honestly and fairly.”

The general consensus is that a lack of personnel in the past and a lack of public education on the codes is largely to blame for the current condition of the appearance of some areas of the city. Elliott and Grissom said they are passionate about educating the public on this issue.

“We all want Russellville to look as good as it can possibly look. We need people to buy in and take pride in our city,” Grissom said. A cleaner city, Grissom emphasized, is a draw to businesses, which means more industry, jobs and a revitalized business district in Russellville.

Of course, it’s not going to be a quick fix. Hargett said he is in the process of coming up with a system for keeping the initiative on track and keeping the mayor and council informed on the progress.

“It didn’t get this way in one night, and we don’t expect to fix it in one night,” Hargett said.

In an early effort to improve Russellville aesthetics, the mayor and the council ask anyone who puts out debris or other rubbish for curbside pickup no more than 24 hours ahead of the scheduled pickup time, instead of days or a week in advance, as a way to improve the cleanliness of the streets.

Anyone who has any complaints they would like to make regarding the appearance of a Russellville property, Hargett said to call the police department, and from there the complaint can be addressed to the correct department. For more information, call RPD at 256-332-2230.

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