City officials are teaming together to clean-up LaFollette after reports of prostitution and drug-related crimes downtown.
(WBIR-LaFollette) After an undercover sting, two women were arrested on prostitution charges in LaFollette, where city leaders say the crime is growing along with drug deals on the streets.
"It seems like it was getting more organized," said Billie Russell, the City of LaFollette Administrator. "When I came down here, I was surprised. We have that problem? We do. And it went from I think three or four (women) to around six or seven."
Russell said she met with local business owners who expressed concerns about prostitution.
"They were starting to work in shifts, and it's not just at night. It's during the day, in broad daylight," said Russell.
The City Administrator said prostitutes were not only offering sexual favors, but also dealing drugs. She said they were spotted hanging out near the intersection of Indiana Avenue and Aspen Street.
"They were inside of the building," said Russell. "We have a machine shop that's been here over 70 years, and if they have clients in, and there are prostitutes walking up and down the street, that's not a good image for them."
Local inmates had cleaned up the building just hours before the prostitutes were arrested. The yard was littered with a boat, vehicles, and tires.
"It's an eyesore," said Russell. "And it's not the only one. There are three or four more here downtown. And it's not good for our businesses."
Just down the street, the owner of Shear Design said she's noticed recent changes in the 20 years she's been in business.
"There has been a lot of activity on the street that's different, that's not normal for a small town like LaFollette," said Gail Herrin.
Herrin said the drug activity and prostitution has not affected her business, but it could if the city did not initiate a clean-up effort.
"It's important that we keep it clean. For the locals, and the tourists coming through town."
"We have a lot of tourists that come to the lake. And many of them come off the interstate and come down 25W. It's not a good reflection of our community," said Russell.
Russell said the city is working with the state to apply for downtown and main street grants to revitalize the city.
"We want our businesses to stay here. And we want to attract more business," said Russell.
The City Administrator said code enforcement officers have handed out letters to three other business owners.
"I don't want to call them out, because they're working on getting the sites cleaned up and having better maintenance," said Russell. "It's all about working together to make this city a destination."