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Citizen addresses Council about Lewisport trespassing issues

Lewisport property owner Renee DeWitt attended the March 17 meeting of Lewisport City Council to personally address her concerns with police availability in the city related to trespassing on her property near Poplar Grove Apartments.

DeWitt’s concerns were first presented at the Feb. 18 meeting in a read-out of a letter by council member Kelly Vanover. In the prepared remarks at that time, DeWitt expressed concern about not being able to reach Lewisport Police Department following a Nov. 6 incident involving children from the complex climbing in trees in her backyard.

DeWitt wrote that after she had addressed the children about damaging her trees, several adults from the apartments approached the property and began arguing with her.

“They were tearing up my trees,” DeWitt told Council March 17. “There were 15 to 20 people out there, and they’re threatening. I shouldn’t have to live (like that); there’s gotta be a solution.”

She told Council she was concerned about liability with the children on her property, upon which she said she had posted “no trespassing” signs, which had been taken down.

“It’s already been said, ‘If one of my kids gets hurt climbing your trees, you got the hospital bill,’” DeWitt said. “I don’t think that should be. I’ve got private property signs everywhere. It don’t matter. I’m sorry I had to to come to the meeting and do it this way.”

She went on to say she felt like Police Chief John Garner “owed her an apology.” Garner had previously said the whole matter of availability was a matter of officer workload priorities and scheduling.

DeWitt said she had tried multiple times to contact the department through a posted phone number on the LPD office door, but had no success.

Mayor Chad Gregory and Officer Greg Linn suggested to DeWitt that she attempt to document any trespassing or damage to her property as it is happening. She responded that she uses her phone for communicating with acquaintances, and did not feel comfortable videoing or capturing pictures of the children.

Linn said there were four documented complaints coming from DeWitt’s address in 2021, with two of them for trespassing, according to Central Dispatch records. “We have to catch them on the property to be able to charge them (for trespassing),” he said.

DeWitt said she currently has six signs posted on her property, as previous signs have been removed. She told Council parents at the complex had told the children “have nowhere else to play.”

Gregory told DeWitt the city would “take another look at the problem.”

By C. Josh Givens

 

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