The Valley Police Department arrested an 82-year-old woman after she didn’t show up for court on a charge of failure to pay a solid waste fee.
Martha Louise Menefield, 82, owed the city $77.80 for the trash fee for the months of June, July and August, according to court documents.
“Prior to issuing the citation, Code Enforcement tried to call Ms. Menefield several times and attempted to contact her in person at her residence,” Police Chief Mike Reynolds said in a press release. “When contact could not be made, a door hanger was left at her residence.”
Reynolds said Menefield was issued a citation and was ordered to appear in court on September 7, which she did not do.
District Court of Chambers County Clerk Debra Powers signed a warrant for her arrest on September 13.
Menefield, who lives on 51st Street in Valley, has been charged with not paying the trash fee before. In 2007, she was charged with the same thing. That case was dismissed. The city of Valley said the trash company had been dealing with non-payment from Menefield for quite some time.
“According to the Environmental Services Ms. Menefield has had her trash services suspended three times in the past two years for non-payment and records indicate that there have been over 22 incidents of suspensions and revocation of services since 2006,” Reynolds added.
However, people in Valley are upset that an elderly woman can be arrested for not paying a trash fee.
“I hope the community rallies around this woman,” said Shauna Gonzales, who lives in Valley. “I know I will. I moved here from the West Coast to escape things like this. I wanted to live in a community that loves and supports each other. This was shocking!”
Reynolds said Menefield was processed at the Valley Police Department and was released on bond. He posted the press release on the city’s Facebook page after people came forward with concerns.
“While our officers can use their discretionary judgment on certain matters, the enforcement of an arrest warrant issued by the court and signed by a magistrate, is not one of them,” Reynolds said. “Ms. Menefield was treated respectfully by our officers in the performance of their duties and was released on a bond as prescribed by the violation.”
But Gonzales said the post on social media is something she never wants to see again in her city.
“Obviously, someone knew this was wrong or they would not have felt the need to create a public announcement defending their actions,” she said. “Sharing this woman’s payment history and publicly humiliating her on top of arresting her over a civil matter is pretty disgusting.”
A court date has not been set for Menefield. Reynolds did not return a phone call from 1819 News.
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