Guest speaker for the Rotary Club of Winnfield meeting at noon on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, was Katina Sanders Smith, current city clerk for the City of Winnfield. Ms. Smith is a native of Winnfield, who has worked for the city for the last ten years. She initially worked as city tax clerk, and later advanced to the position of city clerk, in which she oversees the city’s daily operations and records management. Ms. Smith is a member of the Louisiana Municipal Clerks Association and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, which keeps her current in best practices for municipal clerks and legislation related to municipal clerks’ duties and responsibilities. She is also working toward obtaining her Municipal Clerk’s certification. Katina is also the current Vice President of the Dugdemona Festival Board and a member of the board of directors of Trinity Medical Clinics.
Ms. Smith was accompanied to the meeting by the city inspector for the last 21 years, Mr. Andre Bass. Ms. Smith spoke about keeping the city clean and neat, and about blighted properties around town whose owners have not properly maintained the premises and have allowed it to become run down and overgrown. She said Winnfield has an ordinance governing the condition and appearance of property providing that lawns may not be allowed to grow higher than 18 inches. The owner is obliged to have the lawn mowed when it reaches 18 inches.
Ms. Smith said the city sends letters in April of each year to inform property owners whose property violates the 18-inch provision to clean up their property in accordance with the ordinance by a certain date. If the work is not done by the deadline, the city does the work to bring the property in compliance, and the property owner is charged for the city’s services. The properties in violation of the ordinance are identified by the city inspector as well as by citizen complaints, which are then confirmed by the city inspector.
The city clerk said there are numerous parcels of property in the city limits which have been adjudicated to Winn Parish because of unpaid property taxes, and the parish has had difficulty maintaining so many properties. However, the city and parish are now working together to get the properties that are owned by the parish cleaned up in compliance with the city ordinance.
Ms. Smith cautioned that a citizen may not go into his neighbor’s yard and clean up the property, so if he wants to help keep his neighborhood neat and clean, he should call the city and give the city the address of the property which is an eyesore. A citizen might also organize a voluntary neighborhood cleanup and get the entire neighborhood involved in making sure all properties are well kept.
Ms. Smith also said another way the city of Winnfield strives to keep the city neat and clean is by holding city cleanups twice a year and getting volunteers to come and work together all on the same day to clean the streets and ditches of the various neighborhoods. The two annual city-wide cleanup events were begun when the mayor was Kiah Beville, and the practice has been continued by the current administration.
Mr. Bass stated that properties that have been abandoned or neglected by their owners and allowed to deteriorate to the point of being structurally unsafe or unfit to live in could eventually be torn down, but the property must be judicially condemned first, which takes at least several months and may take years.
The Rotary Club of Winnfield meets every Wednesday at Noon for lunch at Lynda’s Country Kitchen. For more information about the Rotary Club of Winnfield, you may contact President, Jodi Taylor (832) 573-5085. You can also find club information on Facebook at Rotary Club of Winnfield Facebook Page or online at Rotary.org.