Not taking care of your pool could land you in jail

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- An Augusta man's old pool could be his ticket to jail if he doesn't get it filled in soon.

Steve Hammock's in-laws put a pool in their backyard in 1976. Hammock moved into the house about nine years ago. He stopped using the pool about four years ago after it got too expensive.

"The electric bill is about $500 a month when I had it running," he said. "And chemicals are about $300 to $400 a month and I couldn't afford that."

The decision may have saved him a few hundred dollars a month, but it could cost him in a much bigger way.

"The county came out here the one day...and said somebody complained about it," Hammock said. "So they gave me 30 days to fill it in, but I don't have the money."

Hammock got a letter from Richmond County Mosquito Control on Aug. 7. It said Hammock's pool is in violation of the county's mosquito code. It also said to avoid legal action, Hammock's pool has to be operational or removed.

"I was just worried because I don't want to have to go to jail like that other gentleman did," Hammock said.

The other gentleman he's referring to also lives in Augusta. The man spent 30 days in jail after failing to fill in his pool when it became a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

According to Richmond County Mosquito Control, jail is just one possible outcome, and there are a few steps before it gets to that.

The county gave Hammock 30 days, starting Aug 7., to begin fixing his pool. They were supposed to check back on Sept. 11, but Fred Koehle, program manager of Richmond County Mosquito Control, said they weren't able to go back because they were helping with hurricane relief.

Koehle said if the county doesn't see any progress when checking Hammock's pool, they will issue him a warning and give him 15 days to fix it.

If no progress is made after that point, Koehle said the county will request a citation, and the case will go to court. At that point there are four outcomes: up to a $1,000 fine, community service, up to 60 days probation or up to 60 days in jail.

Hammock said he's doing whatever he can to avoid that.

"If I can figure out how to get this done and get it over with and shut them up," he said.

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