At the Tuesday Lubbock City Council meeting, Lubbock Police Chief Claude Jones addressed the council about crime at the Ponderosa Apartments on the 1000 block of East 29th. He said, "From time to time, we have a number of complaints in those particular apartments for different types of drug dealings." Ruella Johnson and William Phillips looked on as Jones spoke about a place they call home.
Ruella and William say the once condemned Ponderosa Apartments are dilapidated and sub-standard. Ruella says, "I still don't have any insulation and the heater doesn't want to work. I have 50 things wrong with my apartment and I asked them to fix it. It was like I was put on a blackball list because I asked for too much." William says, "There's so many code violations it's pitiful. There's probably a thousand at least."
From William's apartment to the ones next door, evidence of code violations is everywhere at Ponderosa, but owner Lester Payne says that's not indicative of what's being done. According to him, he's been doing everything he can to make Ponderosa a good place to live since the property was purchased about six years ago. He says, "We basically ran into a hell of a hornets nest and at that time this whole area of Chapman Hill had a lot of drugs in it. My philosophy on drugs is they destroy families, they destroy people and we need to clean it up."
One thing Lester and William can both agree on is that overflow from an area about two blocks away is contributing to the drug problem at Ponderosa. They say all the city has done about it is put up a couple of signs. Lester says, "If our councilman cares anything about this property on Chapman Hill, then he should push to do something about it." William says, "You'd be surprised what goes on here at night when Lester is not around." Ruella adds "It's a constant pain to live here, too many drugs, parties all night long."
NewsChannel 11 spoke with councilman T.J. Patterson about the problem. He says his heart goes out to the residents of Ponderosa. However, he says the problems must run their course and the city must go through the proper process to create change, which will take time.