Residents of King Villa met with police again Wednesday to review recommendations made by Columbia County officials on ways to clean up the neighborhood.
After interviewing residents of 18 households in the Washington Road-area neighborhood, which is burdened with stray animals and a history of drug trafficking, the sheriff's crime suppression squad found road improvements and removal of trash and junk vehicles atop the list of residents' concerns.
"We're getting a lot of good feedback, and we hope to get the Dumpsters out in front of the neighborhood by the end of this month," said sheriff's Sgt. Mike Riley. "We're going to try to get all of the trash in the neighborhood cleaned up. If people are not in compliance by the end of the month, we'll stop and have a talk with them."
Sgt. Riley, along with Metro Augusta Clean and Beautiful, plan to set up the garbage container in front of King Villa later this month for residents to dispose of junk tires and other large trash items like old washers and dryers.
Most residents interviewed told sheriff's officers they are happy with the increased police presence and noted a decrease in drug activity since concentrated patrols began last month.
"I am not naive enough to stand here and tell you that we can get all of the drugs out of King Villa, but we are going to be able to help with a portion of them," Sgt. Riley told 15 residents Wednesday night at the neighborhood's monthly meeting. "What we can do is take away the people they are selling the drugs to."
Sgt. Riley urged residents to call police when they see something suspicious.
"If every person looked after two houses on each side when they're at home, it would have a snowball effect," Sgt. Riley said. "Pretty soon, everybody would be looking out for each other. We're trying to help you take your neighborhood back."
Officials with the county's Emergency Management Services plan to distribute a second questionnaire asking residents what role the county should take in the cleanup. All improvements made to King Villa will be approved by residents.
"They are setting this up so we can tell them what we want," said Mary Johnson, who has lived in King Villa for 46 years and helped form a neighborhood committee three years ago. "We can say no, and then they won't do anything."
Reach Scotty Fletcher at (706)868-1222,Ext. 111, or firstname.lastname@example.org.