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Copan church tries to help veteran in need, but city finds safety concerns on the property

Posted at 5:47 PM, Aug 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-29 18:47:49-04

COPAN, Okla. -- Dusty Smith is battling leukemia, and recently found himself in between places to live.

He turned to the Families for Christ Baptist Church, and they said he could his park his RV on the property. Staff with the city say that's against the law.

"This is my home, it's all I've got. I don't want to join the ranks of the homeless veterans if you know what I mean," Smith said.

Copan's utility administrator said they asked the pastor to petition in front of city council. When he didn't, they gave notice, saying Smith has until next week to find another place to live.

"This man needs help. Our religious belief is to help our brothers and sisters in Christ. We're going to stay with him until the end, they're not pushing us around," pastor Gene Hester said.

Staff with the city said the bigger issue is a fire hazard, with cords running across the property. The church tells 2 Works for You they're working to fix this problem. If they don't, the building could be at risk of closing.

"You can't do that with little kids running around, with people running around. They don't have covers on anything. There's no conduit. The hard wire that's the main feed is rubbing against metal," administrator Devin Black said.

After multiple breakers blew out over the weekend, a fire marshal is investigating this week to determine if the space is a hazard. As for this veteran, the city said this could have been solved.

"It was as simple as him coming and asking for a hardship. If he would have asked for the hardship, I know the members of this council would have granted it. They would have. But instead, he didn't want to," Black said.

The vet's sister is helping him to look for an apartment right now, but he said they haven't had any luck yet.

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