Code enforcement officer keeps city clean

Alisa Boswell

In a day in the life of Portales Code Enforcement Officer Brandi Morgan, one man’s treasure is often his own hazard.

It’s Morgan’s job to tell Portales residents when they are violating a city ordinance and why. These ordinances include weed overgrowth and the accumulation of trash, stagnant water, dense smoke and anything putting off a strong odor or attracting vermin.

“Some days you’re going to have more notices than other days,” Morgan said Thursday while making rounds within the city.

Morgan, who has been in the position since December, said while working code enforcement she has mostly experienced cooperation with Portales residents when issuing them warnings to deal with their property violations.

Portales is divided into four zones and Morgan patrols one zone every two days, driving down its neighborhood streets and alleyways.

Morgan said she personally delivers notices to residents unless a building is unoccupied. Then, a notice is mailed to the owner.

“You would be amazed what you see in alleyways,” Morgan said. “And that’s where I spend 99.9 percent of my time.”

Morgan said one of the worst situations she had was dealing with a resident who had thrown trash over their backyard fence, building up 20 bags that were scattered by animals.

“There was just debris everywhere,” Morgan said. “And, oh, the smell.” She laughed.

Morgan said most people are not aware they have violated a city ordinance until she tells them. Most are quick to correct the issues. Morgan said the ordinance violation she has dealt with most in the last two weeks is refrigerators on front lawns, having issued more than 10 notices.

“A lot of people are concerned about the refrigerator situation when I explain it because they just didn’t think about it,” Morgan said. “They get really worried about their kids getting hurt.”

Morgan said refrigerators are a hazard, because children could play in them, causing them to get hurt or even killed. She said another violation she has seen a lot of are toilets on front lawns.

“That one just grosses me out,” Morgan said, laughing.

“A lot of people will see notices after the first rain due to increased weed growth.”

Morgan said another serious violation, especially with current dry weather conditions, is the overgrowth of weeds and the accumulation of tumbleweeds on lawns.

“A downside is having to be negative with someone because they don’t want to remove something from their lawn,” Morgan said. “The key is to find a common ground with people.”

Lt. Todd Moore of the Portales Police Department said Morgan has been doing a good job.

“She has a very important job,” Moore said. “It provides a great service to the community.”

Morgan said she likes her job, because it is low stress and she loves being out in the community.