Woman goes to jail over messy yard
South Carolina town comes to homeowner's aid after she is locked up for six days for failing to pay a $480 fine. Neighbors argue that she had plenty of time to clean up and didn't.
Neighbors have come to the aid of a South Carolina woman who spent six days in jail because of her messy yard.
Linda Ruggles, a 53-year-old photographer in Mount Pleasant, S.C., near Charleston, said she couldn't install the shingles stacked on her roof or keep up her lawn after the recession scuttled her photography business. She sold blood plasma, worked part-time at a supermarket and collected scrap metal in her driveway to pay back taxes and save her ranch home from foreclosure, she told The Post and Courier in Charleston.
In her view, she's being persecuted because she is poor.
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"I feel like they want to make an example out of me," she told the newspaper as she sat in jail. "This should be an embarrassment for the town of Mount Pleasant. And it should be an embarrassment for my neighbors who called the code enforcement officer, because no one offered to help me -- no one."
After Ruggles was jailed for failure to pay the $480 fine, residents came to her aid, including a contractor who said he would fix her leaky roof for free and landscapers who offered to clean up her yard.
“It’s all about giving back,” landscaper Corey Ireland told the newspaper about his decision to help Ruggles, who is going to photograph his upcoming wedding. “She’s having a hard time and needs some help. Hopefully, someday, if I ever need help, someone will be there to help me, too.”
City officials said they went out of their way to help Ruggles, but she failed to comply with the city ordinances and didn't show up for court dates.
"The town bent over backward for her," code enforcement officer Mark Sargeant told the newspaper. "We did everything we could to accommodate her, but she didn't reciprocate."
Her neighbors complained to code enforcement authorities more than a year ago, asking that Ruggles be required to clean up her property. The loose shingles could become missiles if a hurricane blew through, and her unsightly property was dragging down their property values, they said.
"This is not something that just cropped up," next-door neighbor Marty Vermillion told the newspaper. "This has been going on for years. This person had multiple chances to avoid all of this. ... Offers of help have been rejected and rejected. It's affecting our property values, and that's not right or fair."
So she was offered help and refused it until she sat in the klink. Woe is me and nothing is my own fault so everyone should feel sorry for her. To answer the earlier question yes I do know how much a bundle of shigles weighs but not much at all when you open them and carry a couple at a time so stop handing her excuses that are B.S. . She is nothing more than lazy and wants people to feel sorry for her and expects a handout!!!!!!!!!
Being poor does not have to equal having a messy or dirty house. I am going through hard times right now, but my yard is always clean and very presentable. I work and am out of my house 50+ hours a week. My neighbors have grown men as kids living there that don't work and always have a mess and a junk car in their driveway and a trailer. Drives me crazy. Show a little pride in your home!!! Money or no money, do the work yourself if you can't afford a gardner.
Plus if she showed some responsibility and showed up to court, she would not have been thrown in jail.
Why is it that "poor" people cant keep up their homes/yards. Keeping the house and yard clean is free. It only requires elbow grease. And if she wasnt working much, she should have had plenty of time to take care of it. The article did not say she was handicapped in any way.
I live in a city full of families without money, and many of the homes look like trash dumps and I just do not understand that. But I bet a good chunk of them have big tvs that they sit in front of all day.
I once had a friend with several children and had a hard time making ends meet, she always said "because I am poor, there is no need to be dirty, soap is cheap".
I am glad the city stuck to its rules. I wish their rules were in my town. But now course, all those nice folks came through and did all her work, so in the end she won.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.