(By Mark Stalcup) [Order this photo]
In Linton, Heady, an active senior citizen, took it upon himself to mow neighboring properties which had become run down and overgrown.
His efforts won him accolades from the city of Linton, whose council members awarded him an "Attaboy!" during Monday's regular meeting.
The accolades, initially conceptualized by Councilwoman Linda Bedwell and Councilman Jathan Wright, are intended to recognize those who make the extra effort to better the city.
Initiated last April, the Attaboys have been presented regularly during City Council sessions, encouraging increased citizen involvement while praising those who go the extra mile for Linton's betterment.
Bedwell said Heady's work definitely fits the bill.
"When he's done mowing them, they look better than 90 percent of the properties in Linton," the councilwoman observed.
While Heady's unsure who owns the properties, he just wanted to make a difference.
"I live in that neighborhood," Heady explained of his efforts to mow overgrown lawns all summer near the intersections of 3rd and B Sts. "I just wanted to make my neighborhood a little bit nicer."
His work illustrates two aspects of the city of Linton's push to curb run-down properties and overgrown sites. First, Heady's volunteered his time and effort, something which Mayor John Wilkes and the City Council have urged local folks to do.
Occasionally, city officials have observed, properties become overgrown because some elderly or low-income residents can't keep up the properties due to their health or resources.
Some properties may even have fallen into disarray due to senior citizens, in what's become a naturally occurring retirement community (NORC), winding up unable to maintain their property due to a nursing home stay.
Wilkes said in May he hopes those who can't keep up their homes or properties know they can contact the city and neighbors, seeking ways to obtain assistance.
Linton Clerk-Treasurer Jack Shelton jokingly sought some help mowing his own lawn from Heady as well.
"You know where I live, right?" Shelton teased.
Heady's efforts also illustrate another problem the city of Linton faces in cleaning up blight. At least some of the property owners aren't local -- or even in Indiana.
Heady believes an out-of-state bank might currently hold the title on the property he mows.
"I don't know who it belongs to, really," he observed. "I just like to make the neighborhood look nicer."
For example, Bedwell and Wilkes have sought information and communication with at least one out-of-state mortgage company which owns property on NE H St. near Linton-Stockton School Corp. That overgrown property has posed concerns for city officials, and unsuccessful attempts to obtain a response have flustered their efforts.
The owner -- Northstar Mortgage, an out-of-state mortgage company in Texas -- seems unwilling to sell.
Linton-Stockton School Corp. had offered about $15,000 for the property, close to its appraised value at the time. However, the company didn't bite at the offer.