Chinook saw the most vibrant chapter in an ongoing debate about the needs of society versus the individual, in particular the large Nelson family and their even larger number of rarely moving vehicles.
Several months ago, Marsha Overcast came to the Chinook City Council to complain about the number of vehicles parked across the street from her elderly mother’s house. The house across the street belongs to Londa Nelson, though it has recently housed many more Nelsons, and the yard and street surrounding the house, Overcast said, were filled with vehicles of varying usability.
Since the complaint, Chinook Police Chief Mark Weber said he has gone by their house to remind residents of the city ordinance forbidding vehicles to remain unmoved for five days.
The warnings and tickets have achieved few results, he said.
One of the results was the appearance of a handful of Nelsons, including Londa Nelson, who didn’t speak up, and her house guests, of which Jerry and Dennis Nelson did most of the talking.
For the Nelsons, the parking issue is not one of public safety or usability of roads, but one of personal freedom and the government picking on them again.
“I’m handicapped, same as your damn mother, ” Dennis Nelson told Overcast. “Where do you want me to park? ”
When council members tried to answer that question, Dennis Nelson then loudly objected to the city telling him where to park his car, which he “pays taxes on” and is licensed correctly.
The family explained that they are trying to buy some property out of any city as oppressive as Chinook, but were having trouble because “people don’t want to sell their land” according to Dennis Nelson.
Weber told them that the rule isn’t a city rule, it’s state law. The local police had only written them tickets based on the local law because the state version imposes more severe penalties.
The Nelsons chalked this whole situation up to nosey neighbors sticking their noses where they don’t belong before the eldest present, Elmer Nelson, told the council and the meeting attendees that they should mind their own business and not pay so much attention to what he does on his property, before storming out.
The council, eager to regain control of the hijacked meeting, came to the conclusion that they needed to take a closer look at the city ordinances to see what can be done.