HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Huntington Mayor Steve Williams knows how his counterpart in Clarksburg is feeling. Last month’s drug-related murders of four people, two of whom were innocent bystanders, is a familiar story to Williams. Huntington has dealt with wave after wave of crime in recent years.
But Williams said the city is engaging in activities trying to reduce it. He said the first order is, literally, to clean up the town. More than 100 on-the-spot citations have been issued to owners of dilapidated properties. Those can be erased if the property is cleaned up.
“You get the community involved,” said Williams.
The city initiated the spot citations as part of their home rule allowance. Not only do city inspectors have the power, Williams said, but police and firemen can issue the citations and it’s starting to work.
“An awful lot of it is purely creating an expectation,” he said. “There’s a level of accountability, but there’s also a responsibility. People are expected to take care of their property.”
Williams said it turned out the most crime-ridden neighborhoods were also the most dilapidated and unkempt. The citation givers targeted those neighborhoods, which are enjoying good results.
“You get the community involved,” he said. “You have to have police, fire, public works, ministers, and the schools. The whole community comes together.”
Williams said the result is an improved community spirit and a reduction in criminal activity.
“We have a long way to go, but Huntington is cleaner now than it has been in many years,” said the mayor. “I don’t know that there’s every a final resolution, but you have to be constantly diligent in the efforts.”