By Brandi Makuski
Residents of Stevens Point may have noticed him driving around their neighborhood, placing tags on front doors and jotting down notes as he drives by homes.
He’s Dan Trelka, the city’s new ordinance control officer. The position was first created in June by Mayor Mike Wiza, who first mentioned the idea during his campaign in late 2014.
Trelka, a native of Stevens Point, said he applied for the spot because it somewhat overlapped with his law enforcement background- and it paves the way, in his mind, for a spot on the Stevens Point police force.
“I’m still interacting with people,” said Trelka, who previously worked as a Juneau Co. sheriff’s deputy and a police officer in the Town of Grand Rapids. “Granted, it’s not so much on a positive term, but my main goal is to be a police officer. So if I’ve got a job with the city that would improve my chances.”
Trelka currently is a member of the city’s all-volunteer police auxiliary unit, and also works for the Portage Co. Humane Society.
According to Trelka, the most common ordinance violation he sees involves furniture and cars parked in front yards.
“The city has ordinances on those things,” Trelka said.
When he notes an ordinance violation, Trelka will send a letter to the property owner asking for the problem to be corrected, typically within 10 days. Potentially dangerous violations, such as improper chemical storage or an abandoned refrigerator, will be removed immediately at the property owner’s expense.
Violations not corrected by the letter’s deadline incur a $100 service fee, Trelka said. If the first letter is ignored, he added, additional letters- each with a separate $100 service fee- will be sent every two weeks until the problem is corrected.
But sometimes, getting residents to follow the law is tricky, he said, and the city is already seeing residents who have accumulated five or more such violation letters for the same offense. It’s prompted the city to install further policies to deal with the problem.
“I hear a lot of, ‘How can the city tell me what to do on my own property?’,” he said.
Property owners with five or more unpaid and uncorrected violations will be referred to the city attorney, he said, for possible appearance in municipal court or, if necessary, issuance of an arrest warrant.
“But it’s not like they didn’t have multiple opportunities to fix the issue,” Trelka said. “They’re given time to comply…kind of like what the [police department] does, where if you don’t correct it in a certain amount of time, you’ll be issued a citation.”
Trelka’s position is part-time and he is typically working on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
More information on the city’s ordinances can be found here. Trelka can be reached at (715) 342-4006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.