Seymour couple says they're being singled out for cluttered property
Many towns and cities throughout the Ozarks are gearing up for fall that means city-wide clean-up efforts.
The City of Seymour's fall clean up ran into a snag.
Neighbors got rid of more trash than expected. This is a problem, especially for one family.
"If there's a lesson to be learned I guess it's that people in the community are taking the clean-up efforts quite seriously," said Webster County Citizen newspaper owner and city alderman, Dan Wehmer.
The city-wide clean-up efforts ended sooner than expected because the dumpsters filled up quickly.
Daniel and Linsey Johnson say they planned to take advantage of the city-wide clean up to help them deal with the multiple violations they received from the city.
"We brought it in from an auction just to try to make a buck because we are on disability, both of us," explained Daniel Johnson.
A few weeks ago Wehmer published a few articles about the condition of the Johnson's home and included their address, encouraging other people to drive by to see it for themselves.
"In the media we scrutinize chronic offenders of other laws, whether they're a chronic their or a chronic abuser, well these are chronic violators of codes. The public has a right to know," he explained.
The Johnson's said the articles have caused them grief.
Daniel Johnson said, "We don't belong in Seymour."
"Yeah from the newspaper," said Linsey Johnson.
"The article that was in the newspaper," said Daniel Johnson. "We are getting bullied."
"I can't even sit outside somebody goes by they stare at you," said Linsey Johnson.
We asked Wehmer, "You don't think it's unsafe? For their safety, compromising (it)?"
"What safety would be compromised? They're not hiding it. You can drive by. That's a public street and take a look," he said.
The Johnson's explained that Wehmer didn't speak to them before he went to print.
Linsey Johnson said, “I would think that somebody that you've known for that long would come and say, hey, I see that you have some difficulties. Do you need help?"
We asked Wehmer, "By publishing it (the address), what were you hoping to for? What was the result that you were hoping for?"
"That they would pick it up. The goal was that they clean their mess up. Make no mistake. The hope is that by pointing this out that they would clean up their mess, follow the law," he said.
We asked the Johnsons, "Do you have an issue with complying with the law?"
"No ma'am," said Daniel Johnson.
Linsey Johnson said, "No".
We asked the Johnson, "What can you say for your side of the story in all of this that didn't get published in that newspaper article?"
"They didn't give us time to clean it up. They just started writing tickets," said Daniel Johnson.
They say they intend to have their property cleaned by the city's deadline of Thursday.
In return, Wehmer says their fines of $910 will be dropped.
We asked Wehmer, "You don't think that you're being perceived as a bully?"
"I think that some may perceive me as a bully. That's a shame. All I'm seeking is following of the law. It's as simple as that. We're trying to have a clean community," he said.
Seymour plans to have another clean-up event to be held on a Sunday in just a few weeks.