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Peabody couple claims harassment

Rogers and Berg lambast council and police

News editor

Scheduled to talk about a grass complaint and tires being dumped on one of their rental properties, Kenny Rogers and Joan Berg took 40 minutes at Monday’s city council meeting to expound on a litany of past conflicts with city officials to allege they’ve been harassed and ignored.

Rogers’ immediate complaint stemmed from a $200 bill he received from the city for mowing grass at 501 N. Poplar St., a rental property he owns, that was deemed to be in violation of the city’s lawn height regulations.

Rogers said he mowed the lawn Aug. 14 for new renters. He said he heard from one of them last week.

“He (the renter) said, ‘Somebody from the city told me that if I didn’t get the yard mowed they were going to fine me,’” Rogers said. “I thought, ‘What a heck of a way to invite somebody new to town.’”

Then Rogers got the mowing bill.

“I’d like to see pictures of where they mowed and what they mowed,” he said. “I think it’s just a bunch of crap. It’s more harassment. It seems funny I didn’t get this bill for mowing until a couple days after I wanted to get on the agenda about people dumping tires on it and the police department not doing anything.”

Berg said a total of two dozen tires have been dumped at the Poplar St. property and that police had not done anything about it.

“There have been tires dumped on 3 occasions,” she said. “The first two were reported to the Peabody Police Department, the third one has not because it doesn’t do any good.”

Police chief Bruce Burke acknowledged that an officer took a call about the tires, but said, “There was never a case cut on it.”

Rogers claimed three people had seen the tires dumped and who did it. When Mayor Larry Larsen asked for the name, Rogers didn’t provide it.

“If we’ve got to do cop work, they’d better give us a week of his pay and we’ll tell you who’s doing it,” he said. “Would that be OK with you, Bruce, if you don’t want to do anything?”

Berg said past interactions with police officers have caused her to lose respect and trust.

“Since moving here, it’s pretty intimidating to have an officer come over with backup, and that’s just about every time, and have his hand on his weapon,” she said. “To be constantly told, and I quote, ‘I’ll arrest you,’ unquote, for different things.”

Rogers agreed.

“I could spend all night here telling you stories about what’s happened to us in Peabody,” he said. “I don’t mind obeying the law, I just expect everyone else to obey it along with me.”

Rogers and Berg provided examples of past incidents to illustrate their allegations of harassment and retaliation. Included in the list was a five-year-old complaint about city water that they claimed led to retaliation by having a cattle floodgate removed by the city.

“It’s about to the point where I’m going to file a personal harassment suit against somebody and they aren’t going to be able to use city money to defend themselves,” Rogers said.

They registered additional complaints about having to repair a fence damaged by a falling tree from city property, late night fireworks after Babe Ruth baseball tournament games, the poor condition of the railroad crossing on Walnut St., and others.

Larsen came back to the tire issue, saying that he would personally get back to Rogers and Berg about the progress of the investigation.

Lawn regulations

Burke came back to the issue of lawn regulations during his scheduled time with the council. He said he annually updated regulations, and recommended the city hike its mowing fees.

Council member Rick Reynolds balked at the suggestion, noting he had someone mow his yard for $45.

“With the city making out at $200 for a yard that’s a third of the size of mine, I think that’s all right on price,” he said.

Council members discussed ways to document grass violations and getting an inexpensive mower to use for residential mowing.

Reynolds said it could take two or three hours to discuss the regulations, and proposed having a special meeting to talk about them. Council agreed to meet at 6 p.m. Oct 4.

In other business:

  • N.M. Patton renewed a discussion about deficient playground equipment in the park. Council agreed to establish a special account to receive donations for improvements. Patton said a public meeting to discuss playground improvements would be at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at Peabody Township Library.
  • Public works director Ronnie Harms sought approval to purchase a $13,000 replacement pump for the city water pumping station, which failed last week. The unbudgeted expense was approved, with the source of the money to be determined.

Last modified Aug. 31, 2017

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