The enforcer walks softly and carries a big… list of city codes. These days, properties in the city limits of Globe are getting a lot of attention from newly hired Code Enforcement Specialist Michelle Yerkovich, and although her stick is local law, she doesn’t intend to batter anyone over the head with it.
City Manager Paul Jepson calls the code enforcement program “positive persistence.” His and the City Council’s goal is to get everyone to do their share to make Globe beautiful.
Yerkovich’s goals are to educate the public about city code and systematically remove blight from the area. “What I’ve found is that most people are not intentionally violating code,” she said. “They just don’t know what it is.”
Many code violations are discovered through complaints from local residents. Yerkovich will research the code, radio into dispatch that she is headed to a particular location and then visit the site personally to determine if the problem is, indeed, a code violation or a civil matter. Once she has made that determination, she sends a letter stating that the property owner has 15 to 30 days to clean up their property.
Her involvement doesn’t end there, although the city cannot be responsible for the clean-up. Yerkovich generally points out easy solutions to help property owners get started because she wants see them succeed.
“I have told people, you know Right Away Disposal will pick up that old couch, those shelves and that mattress,” she said, “but they can’t pick up the refrigerator.”
In her experience so far, although people are protective of their property, most realize the need to clean up before she gets there and use her visit as the impetus to get started.
Thirty days after the initial letter is sent, Yerkovich visits the site again. It is at this point that she can issue a warning or summons to the magistrate court, but she chooses to go the more helpful route for most people and suggests resources the property owner may not have considered.
“I ask people if they have a church or relatives who could help them,” she said. If people are truly working on solving their particular problem but need more time, she happily gives it to them.
The Chicken or the Egg
Yerkovich uncovered the answer to a mystery that has plagued the world for many centuries. The answer of what came first in the chicken or the egg question is: the rooster, which is not permitted within city limits, according to code.
“People can’t have barnyard animals in city limits,” she said, “unless they have a permit for a small poultry farm.”
Even then, the rooster, which is generally only needed to fertilize eggs to produce more chickens or to act as an old-fashioned alarm clock, is not allowed. The enforcement officer said the poultry farm permit allows for about five chickens.
Besides working to control blight and nuisance animal activity (including at-large dogs), Yerkovich looks after the health and safety of local residents. She has investigated complaints of people living without running water, which is a health and safety code violation. This includes residents who are using water from their neighbors from a bucket or through a hose.
Another part of her job is to find the owners of abandoned, junked or neglected vehicles to have them removed.
According to city code, a vehicle is considered abandoned or junk if any of the following conditions exist for more than three consecutive days:
- The vehicle cannot be started with its own battery
- The vehicle is on blocks or other similar devices
- The vehicle has deflated tires
- A wheel or tire has been removed from the vehicle
- The vehicle does not have current, fully-paid registration from the state of Arizona
- It is partially or wholly dismantled
Yerkovich recently tracked down the owner of a vehicle that had been parked at a city lot for at least a year, and after he received a letter, he removed his vehicle.
Not only do the residents who fix their code violations have the gratitude of a community that is looking better all of the time, they also receive a thank you letter from Yerkovich.
To file a complaint or receive more information about Globe City Code, contact Michelle Yerkovich, Code Enforcement Specialist, at (928) 200-1552 or e-mail: email@example.com
No Stranger Around Here
Yerkovich is no stranger to the Globe. Not only has she lived in the area most of her life, she has sold real estate and worked in the county jail as a sergeant. Both of these jobs are in addition to her roles as mother of three children, Torrie, Tony and Tyler, and wife of Chris, who owns the C&M Service Center.
Her favorite role, besides the one she plays in her family, is as a Wish Granter with her daughter through the Make a Wish Foundation. Torrie works as a corporate giving manager for the Foundation, and Yerkovich has helped grant the biggest wishes of six children so far. She doesn’t intend to stop there because she said this “job” is, by far, one of the most rewarding things she has ever done.
Aimee Staten has worn several hats over the last few years, but she recently put on one of her more familiar caps after four years of working in nonprofits: That of a journalist. She has 14 years of experience in the news business as a reporter with eight of those years as the managing editor of the Eastern Arizona Courier.