Building materials, metal and more are several feet deep across the entire Zeatlow backyard as recently as February.
Building materials, metal and more are several feet deep across the entire Zeatlow backyard as recently as February.

   It began with a letter in 2011.

   “Dear property owner, it has been brought to my attention the dilapidated state of the front porch at the above referenced property ...

   “You are hereby ordered to either repair or remove the dilapidated porch within 60 days ...”

   What followed was a nearly seven-year saga that spanned numerous citations, complaints, damage to a neighbor’s garage and not one but two alleged threats on the lives of Ripon’s top elected officials.

   While the story ended last week with one property owner in jail and the home at 407 Pearl St. razed, it’s a final chapter that was closed only after many, many pages were written over the seven-year period.

   “I’ve been dealing with it for so long it’s hard to remember when it started,” Mayor Gary Will said.

   Official documents, though, paint a picture of a long, trying road dating back to 2011, a year after Will was first elected mayor.

   “We have been trying to work with Royal and David [Zeatlow] for a number of years,” City Administrator Lori Rich said. “We do like to give residents every opportunity to clean it up themselves. [Tearing down a home is] not something we want to do.”

   Official, and anecdotal, evidence suggests the city of Ripon took the slow road toward demolition.

Read the full story in the July 26, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.