In Winder’s world, rules don’t matter

Vernon Neil Winder has effectively raised his tobacco-stained middle finger to the Mesa County commissioners and all the citizens of Mesa County.

Winder is the 75-year-old junk collector whose land at 2525 1/2 South Broadway has twice been cleaned up by Mesa County — at a total cost to taxpayers of $65,000. He was fined $12,400, and the county has a lien against his property for its cleanup costs.

Now, 18 months after the last cleanup, Winder is back at it, decorating his one-acre lot with old appliances and other junk and daring the county to do anything about it.

“It’s very difficult to kick out a 75-year-old man that is disabled,” Winder told The Daily Sentinel’s Le Roy Standish. He claims he called County Commissioner Craig Meis and told him, “I have a lot of junk here I don’t want.” But Meis responded to Winder that the county wasn’t going to clean up his property again.

Meis said he doesn’t recall that conversation, but he is reluctant to use the county’s lien against Winder’s property to sell it and force Winder out.

We understand the concerns of Meis and other county officials. Kicking an elderly man off his property is not something anyone wants to do, regardless of the man’s history of thumbing his nose at county regulations.

What’s more, the county already has spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to clean the property on two different occasions. And those were when the county coffers were relatively flush. How many more times can the county afford to do that, especially given the current economic circumstances?

The vast majority of property owners in Mesa County abide by the rules and keep their property from becoming junkyards. They deserve consideration. So do Winder’s neighbors, who have put up with the eyesore and health hazard that he allows his property to become.

Just because someone is elderly, cantankerous and stubborn, and may be enjoying his Teflon status a little too much, doesn’t mean he should get a pass on abiding by the rules that everyone else must follow.

We don’t want to see Winder forced from his property, either. But perhaps it’s time that he be made to clean up his own mess — through a court order, if necessary.


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