PASCAGOULA MS (WLOX) - When Tracy Tippets bought the Crown Inn on 14th Street in 2007, he thought it was a thriving motel and a solid investment. It didn't take long for him to realize he thought wrong.
"This place was the capitol of sin," Tippetts said of his new purchase.
He said the main things thriving in the motel were drug deals, prostitution and other activities too dark to share.
"That's who they were catering to, from what I could tell," Tippetts said of the former owners. "It was kind of like the Alamo. You know, draw a line in the sand and take a stand."
And take a stand he did. He put up hundreds of thousands of dollars for upgrades and put his own life on the line to force crime off his property.
"When I see women coming around at all hours of the night, I call the police and have them arrested for trespassing," Tippetts said. "The buyers and the dealers are both aware that somebody's here that's not going to tolerate it. I've got zero tolerance for that."
Pascagoula Police said Tippett's investment in crime-fighting is paying off for the entire neighborhood.
In 2006, the year before Tippetts bought the Crown Inn, Pascagoula Police reported 2,471 calls for service and 330 crimes in the general area. In 2008, that numbers had dropped to 1,279 calls for service and 142 reported criminal incidents.
Police said a numer of factors played a role in the decrease, including the cleanup of a housing project next door. They also credit Tippett's proactive attitude as part of the general cleanup.
What you see at the Crown Inn has changed, too. Especially in the 30 deluxe rooms he completely renovated with ceramic tile, upgraded amenities and artistic elements. He has also placed a Bible in each room.
"They're fixed up. And now that it is; we're attracting a better clientelle," Tippetts said. "I've got people who are happy to be here, who knew what this was like before and were afraid to open their door. Now we have little barbeque's on Sunday afternoon. It's a family atmosphere. They're happy to be here, and that makes me happy."
Tippetts said he believes he's taken back the neighborhood.
"I've paid my dues," he said. "I'm still here. The drug people aren't, and the prostitutes aren't. And that's a good thing."
Tippetts wants to make a lasting positive impact on the neighborhood.
"I've thought about turning this into a charter school," Tippetts said. "Take some of these youth in their teens, you know getting into crime and drugs and problems and just heading down the wrong path. If you could get some wonderful male role models and maybe make the upstairs dormatory rooms for troubled teens, then you have classrooms in the downstairs first floor area. That's a vision that I see that would make a tremendous difference in the community."
Tippet said he's spoken with a few people about the possibility of creating the school, but no concrete plans have been set into motion.