88-year-old business owner who can’t afford repairs finds himself in jail
HORTON, Kan. — The businessman found himself on the wrong side of the law in the town of Horton, Kan. because bricks on his downtown office building are considered a hazard and need to be repaired.
Kenneth Knudson, 88, said he is a salt of the earth kind of guy who has never been in trouble. In fact, according to him, he has been devoting his life to the city of Horton.
“I was on the planning commission for Horton, I’ve been the president of the chamber, I’ve been on the appeals board,” said Knudson.
Now Knudson is appealing to the public, the judge and the city of Horton. For more than a year this world war two veteran has faced city code violations because his office building in downtown Horton has a cracked exterior wall and missing bricks near the basement door.
Knudson said sales at his 30-year-old jewelry store have faded like his sign, and his beauty salon next door is barely keeping him and his wife afloat. He said he is just flat out broke and can’t afford to have the work done.
“I went around and tried to get contractors to bid on it and fix it and no one was interested,” said Knudson.
Knudson said the city offered to do the work for $10,000 and apply it to his taxes, but he said that’s just too expensive.
“You should be able to buy the whole downtown for five thousand,” he joked.
All jokes aside, Knudson said when he went to court on December 23 to let the judge know he couldn’t afford to have the work done, he said he was fined $100 and then put in jail.
“I just couldn’t believe it, I just couldn’t believe it,” said Knudson’s wife, Veda.
Veda Knudson said she and her husband have been married for 66 years and she never thought he would spend time in jail. Knudson said it came as a shock to him.
“They can’t throw you in jail for that, you didn’t do nothing. I said no, that’s why they’re throwing you in jail. I didn’t get nothing done,” he said.
The judge has ordered Knudson to have the work done before he goes back to court next month or must pay a $500 fine. So far he’s only been able to put up a plastic construction fence behind his property to keep people from getting too close to his building.
“I just don’t have the money to fix it,” said Knudson.
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