Volunteers and city staff helped to paint a brighter future for one Copperas Cove business by covering graffiti painted by unknown artists.

On Tuesday, H-E-B volunteers Billy and Jennifer Cotter and several others from the store joined code compliance officers in the city’s first graffiti abatement effort since the new ordinance was passed in 2013.

“Officer Wilson had approached us a few months ago to see if anyone at H-E-B wanted to volunteer to paint, because he knew we wanted to do something in the community,” said Jennifer Cotter, H-E-B administrative assistant. “Anytime I’m out in the community volunteering with different organizations, Billy is right there to support.”

According to the new ordinance, property owners must abate graffiti from their property after receiving notice of the nuisance. Also, commercial property owners whose properties have been victimized by graffiti are asked to take advantage of help offered free of charge by the city. The Mighty Mart convenience store owners were the first to accept the offer. Those who decline help from the city have approximately 15 days to abate the graffiti.

Saleem Babu, owner of Mighty Mart on Veterans Avenue, said he worked hard to open his business in 2012 and appreciated all the help he received from the city.

“I have put in a lot of effort to bring up the property to code and to make it more beautiful,” Babu said. “I did everything from scratch. To me if somebody comes to spray (graffiti) on it, it really hurts my feelings. I really appreciate the city, the police department and the H-E-B volunteers for all their help.”

Graffiti is a misdemeanor offense punishable with a mandatory fine of up to $500 for the first offense. Copperas Cove Deputy Police Chief Eddie Wilson said although graffiti is an ongoing issue, he does not consider it to be part of a rising crime spree.

“The trend has been consistent. There hasn’t been a heightened sense of graffiti,” Wilson said. “The problem now is no more of a problem than it has been in the past.”

To reach Azeita Taylor, the Copperas Cove Herald office at 254-501-7476.

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