La Follette officials hoping to attract new businesses by cleaning up the city

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LA FOLLETTE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Nick Thompson owns a business on Indiana Avenue. He'd like to see more jobs come to town, but said the city has too many problems with drugs and prostitution.

"We see them walking up and down the street, and we used to have a warehouse over on the other side of the main street and they even set up shop under one of our tractor trailers," said Thompson.

City Administrator Billie Russell said there's also too many blighted homes and run down businesses.

"Problems with equipment out in their yard, out in their business.Just junked up - and they've been that way for a long time," said Russell.

She said she'd like to attract new stores to La Follette and get revitalization grants.

"Before we can attract business, we have to clean up downtown," said Russell.

The city recently condemned the Miracle Machine Shop building on Indiana Avenue, evicted six people living there and cleaned up everything in the yard. It's also sending warning letters to multiple other homes and businesses - telling them to clean up or appear in court.

As for the drugs and prostitution problem, police said they're directly linked and they're cracking down.

"We were able to arrest several last week during an operation," said Police Chief Jim Jeffries.

Jeffries said Cynthia Foust, Danielle Jones and Alicia Lay were each charged with prostitution after trying to have sex with an undercover cop for $25.

By cleaning up and cracking down on crime, city officials and business owners see a brighter future for La Follette.

"Well, I would like to see new stores coming in, new businesses opening up. New customers coming in to downtown," said Thompson.

Russell said anyone needing help cleaning up their property can call City Hall.

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