Homeless veteran meets deadline for cleaning up property

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - In early October, WLOX News first told you about a homeless veteran who was ordered by Harrison County to clean-up her property on Bayview Street.

But she needed more time and a little help.  Her name is Velia Alarcon.  She was deployed in Afghanistan last year, while her property became overgrown and posed a nuisance to neighbors.

They complained to the county, which in early October gave her 45 days to clean things up.

The property on Bayview  now looks much better than it has in the past.  But was it enough to satisfy the county's code enforcement requirements.

"Found there's been an extreme amount of work performed," the county code officer told supervisors.

Enough work, she said, for supervisors to rescind the clean-up order.

"And at this time, with all the work that's been performed, I recommend the county do not proceed with clean-up," said Theresa Hydrick.

It's exactly what Velia Alarcon had hoped to hear.

When WLOX News first shared her story in early October, it caught the attention of a number of caring people in the community.

Soon, volunteer groups were stepping forward to help with the clean-up.

"I appreciate all the help, yes, absolutely," said Velia Alarcon, after the board voted to rescind its clean-up order.

Her friend, Becky Montgomery, had pleaded with supervisors in October to give this veteran more time for the clean-up.

Now that the clean-up has met county requirements, she is pleased.

"I am here to say thank you. Because I do not believe that without the order that it would not have drawn the attention to the issue. And that the volunteers would not have come out. It wouldn't have happened without the recognition and notoriety. So you've given her a new lease on life," said Montgomery.

But supervisors made it clear, the upkeep must continue.

"There's an issue of maintenance too. It will be maintained. It cannot revert back to the conditions that existed before the order of the board," said supervisor, Marlin Ladner.

With the property cleaned, the bigger challenge now facing Velia Alarcon is moving forward with plans to rebuild her home for the third time in eight years.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed it in 2005. A fire last year destroyed the rebuilt residence.

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