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'It smelled fresh and felt good': Macon-Bibb's fight against blight campaign continues

April 14, 2021, marks the day when Macon-Bibb County launched its fight against the blighted buildings around the county.

MACON, Ga. — It has now been over a year since the fight against blight campaign started. Since the start in April of last year, the county has torn down over 200 blighted structures.

One Bibb County grandmother says the county's initiative has drastically improved her quality of living. 

Keishia Harpe has lived on Walnut Street since 1998. She and her next-door neighbor were best friends until her neighbor moved. When that happened, not only did their friendship change but so did Harpe's living situation.

"Never had any problems. Everything was fine," Harpe said. "(Then) I lost my neighbor, and when I lost my neighbor, things started going downhill."  

She said the home became vacant when her friend moved out and squatters moved in.

"I started having a lot of break-ins, vandalism, things missing out of the porch. My car got broken into. One time my rims were taken that were on my car," said Harpe.

Four of her grandchildren spend a lot of time at her house, but Harpe was afraid to let them play outside. Then, one day, she came home to a surprise; the blighted home was gone.

"It smelled fresh and felt good. When I came home, I was like, wait, the house is gone," said Harpe.

The county is working on getting blighted homes torn down, and they are seeing property owners take action.

"We are seeing property owners come back in, step up, and either repair their property or take it down themselves," said J.T. Ricketson.

So Harpe and her grandchildren can finally enjoy where they live and not worry about problems from the blighted home next door.

"I actually went and got them a basketball goal so they can go out and play because there is nothing over there now that I am afraid of," explained Harpe.

J.T. Ricketson, with Bibb County Code Enforcement, said they started round one of the fight by taking down 38 properties. Now, they are on round nine and working to tear down roughly 103 more.


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