Elderly Man Fined for Grass Clippings Wants Warning

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SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- A 98-year-old lifelong resident of South Williamsport was fined by code enforcement officers.

His violation? Grass clippings left outside his home.

South Williamsport's code office does not give out warnings for snow removal or grass clipping violations. You immediately receive a fine.

When Ernie Eakin received that fine in the mail last week he was surprised because he didn't even know he violated an ordinance.

At 98 years old, Ernie Eakin has called his house in South Williamsport home for nearly a century.

"I was born in this house. I'm getting to know it pretty well," he said.

Last week, for the first time, the World War II veteran received a fine from South Williamsport's code office because grass clippings from his property were on the roadway.

"Who cares if there's a little bit of grass?" he asked. "The next wind puff is going to blow it away anyway."

But Eakin says he isn't upset about the fine; he's already paid it.

"It's not that it happened. It's the way it happened."

Unable to leave the house on his own, Eakin has a landscaper mow his lawn. He would have known about the violation sooner if someone knocked on the door.

"Come up to the door and say, 'hey, you got a little too much grass laying on the curb out here. We'll give you some time to get it off of there and then we take action after we don't move,' and that would be fine," Eakin said.

We spoke with the code enforcement officer in South Williamsport. He says he tries to treat each of his cases the same and that means when he hands out those fines, he doesn't knock on doors.

The code enforcement officer tells Newswatch 16 if he knocked on one door, he'd have to knock on them all.

According to the officer, borough council has given him orders to enforce the yard waste and disposal ordinance in South Williamsport because of a federal push to prevent pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

This ordinance helps keep chemicals in the grass clippings from reaching the river.

"The trash that goes into those drains, the plastic, the cigarette butts some of the local businesses that dump right into the drains that are marked straight to the river, I think those are a little more important than a couple pieces of grass," said Eakin's daughter Kathy Steinbacher.

Ernie Eakin has paid his $25 fine.

A South Williamsport borough council member says he plans to look into the ordinance to see if changes should be made.


  • sick-of-fake-news

    Outrageous and shameful to fine this man over something so idiotic. That town ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  • TexanForever Thompson

    “Thank you for your service in making the world safe for my parents and grandparents. … Now, here’s a fine for a few grass clippings remaining after keeping your lawn neat.”

  • donny hud43987

    I would love to send this poor 98 year old man money!!! Just to remind him that there’s people out there with a heart!!! My god! HES 98!! Shame on whoever gave him this fine!! My god! Unbelievable!!!

  • jsrant

    How would I know if I’m breaking an ordinance law unless I was told. Maybe in the beginning of the season they should remind residents of the law. Then enforce as needed. Second, if this lawn guy didn’t cleanup properly, it’s time to find a new grass cutter or make him cut your lawn for free to make up for the fine.

  • Bob Stevens

    All the local boroughs have this ordinance and its well know, all over facebook constantly, but I don’t think the homeowner should have been fined, he doesn’t do the mowing, a 3rd party did and they need to abide by the law.
    On that note, where all the people whining that they cant speed on their motorcycle with grass on the road?

  • owlsplosion

    I love how some of you think being a 98 year old veteran gives you the right to break laws. I do think the code officer should at least make some effort to talk to (all) people first though. Sounds lazy.

  • Mike David

    The veteran has the grass cut and you site him for not picking up the clippings? Hey South Williamsport if the money is that tight that you need to site a veteran for not cutting his grass to your liking maybe you can save some money by firing you code enforcement officer seems like hes citing people for BS to justify his employment anyway. Send me the ticket Ill pay it for this guy then tell your code enforcement officer were to shove it.

  • Ralph Turasky

    Just Wrong.. Mr Code Cop do the right thing and send this man his money back. WNEP 16 Please Follow up on this Story and report if they do send this Man his money back.

  • mickmars

    So that probably walked by 14 heroin dens and stepped over a few dozen junkies to fine this guy. That sounds about par for the course. SMH

  • My dixie wrecked

    Sounds like the boro needs some money.. what a ridiculous situation. Knock on the doors and let people know what’s up u lazy piece of grass clippings

  • Matt Berns

    The code officer is a narcissist. He would rather see an elderly ww2 veteran pay a fine than do his job. The officer should instantly be fired, no warnings.

  • Jim Carney

    unreal. the town should come and mow his grass and pick up the grass clippings for free.show this veteran the respect he deserves!

  • straubdavid9

    Book’em Daniel! This menace to society should be dealt with to the fullest extent of the LAW! Everybody knows that grass clippings are the number one problem plaguing this nation. Do not let this felony slide ….. pursue it doggedly. Go after this obvious repeat offender with all the might of the judicial system, to include the UN (might be breaking some International Laws as well)……………… or give the guy his money back, and call it a day ~8^)

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