Leonard Wiggins has worked for the City of Belpre for 20 years, nearly 17 of them as tax commissioner.
But when the city decided to have the Regional Income Tax Agency take over those duties, Wiggins transitioned to code enforcement officer, a position that had been on the books for a while but not filled.
Wiggins started the new job Jan. 1 and spent a week training with code officials in Athens. He's been adapting that experience to Belpre's needs, while also filling in where needed, occasionally helping out the water department, where he started with the city two decades ago.
Wiggins also serves on the Belpre City Board of Education and as an EMT and rescue diver for the Little Hocking and Belpre volunteer fire departments.
Question: What needs were the city hoping to address by adding a code enforcement officer position?
Answer: I think what it was doing was at least helping to free up some time for the (safety) service director so he could pinpoint on some other hotter topics.
About the new program
What: Private Security Academy, certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC).
Where: Washington State Community College.
When: Fall semesters.
Who: Anyone interested in careers that may include loss control specialists, uniformed and plain clothed security officers, armored car officers, and VIP/dignitary protection. The academy is also offered as an elective for students in the Criminal Justice associate degree program.
For information: Contact WSCC public safety academies coordinator John Burdette at 374-8716, ext. 1540, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Washington State Community College.
Some of the things I do is go around - yard-mowing, trash ... just generally the (aesthetics). I get into some building code questions. I help the service director do some building permits.
We're just all trying to work as a team, make Belpre work better. ... If a business sees that the community looks nice, they will have a better attitude toward maybe wanting to locate here.
Q: What type of issues have you been dealing with most since taking the job?
A: We have an ordinance here where grass can't be out in the street because it does clog up the storm sewers. ... People aren't used to it.
Pool fences. I have had a slew. That is my No. 1. If people have a pool that's two-feet deep, by ordinance, they've got to have a four-foot fence around it.
Q: Is your work generally complaint-driven or do you go out looking for violations?
A: I don't really go out looking. Most of it's complaint driven, or if I'm out and about and see something, then I'll shoot them off a letter.
Q: Are a lot of violations cases in which people might not be aware of the regulation?
A: Most of it is. It's just things that people aren't aware of. We send them a letter and ... I'll send them a copy of the code. ... Most people are very cooperative.
Q: Do you ever find willful violators?
A: We have ... I would say only one or two that push the envelope to the limit. And that's the nice thing about if the code's in black and white. Well, here it is, read it and we'll work from there.
Q: When someone commits a violation, what steps are taken?
A: I'll go out and do an on-site (investigation), look at the complaint. I might just go ahead and knock at the door if it's something minor. Most of the time I'll come back and send them a letter. ... And that way I can track it and see if I need to go back in so many days and check up on it. Plus then it also lets me know if these are repeat offenders.
Q: What happens if the issue isn't corrected after that first contact?
A: Then I go ahead and send them a certified letter. ... After that then they can go ahead and be cited into mayor's court. I've never had anybody have to do that. Like I said most everybody is easy to work with. (It's) understandable if you don't want to sit down and read an ordinance book. It's not on the best-seller list.
Q: How has the transition been from tax commissioner to code officer?
A: Most of it's still just helping people, so it hasn't been a major change. I need to change what ordinances and things I need to learn.
Evan Bevins conducted this interview.