Claiborne residents skeptical about garbage Pickup by inmates set to begin Friday

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, May 30, 2012

PORT GIBSON — Skepticism and uncertainty surround Claiborne County’s plan to begin garabage pickup Friday.

Two new, shiny Heil garbage trucks sat locked behind the gates of Claiborne County Road Department Tuesday as the county planned for its employees and state inmates to begin garbage pickup Friday. Six uniformed county employees at the county facility confirmed the plans but refused to comment further.

The county is renting the trucks and expects to save $200,000 in fiscal year 2013, according to a legal advertisement in the Port Gibson Reveille.

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Three of the five supervisors for whom phone numbers could be acquired and county administrator James Johnston did not return calls for comment last week or Tuesday.

HomeBase Litter Control, which has been contracted with the county since 2008 to collect household and business garbage outside Port Gibson’s city limits, began removing cans Friday and collection of the cans was to continue through Thursday.

Residents were not notified beforehand, said Keith Green who lives on Grand Gulf Road.

“They don’t mind sending us a bill,” Green said. “They should have at least sent us a letter or notification that we were doing this.”

Green’s cans were removed on a flat-bed trailer after his garbage was collected.

“I was pretty unhappy about it,” he said.

The county will not provide cans for garbage, and Green said he was told to just put his garbage on the curb.

“If we put the cans down at the road, they’re going to take them,” he said.

Also on Grand Gulf Road, about 50 cans were removed from Lake Claiborne — a private, gated community — just before Memorial Day weekend, said Sandy Davis, secretary/treasurer of Lake Claiborne Inc. To get through the weekend the community had to rent a large trash container, she said.

“We couldn’t do without trash” pickup, she said.

Tuesday, Lake Claiborne officials were waiting for a call from county supervisors to determine how to handle collection, Davis said.

“They indicated to me that there would be no lapse in service,” she said.

Some HBLC customers still had their cans Tuesday. Black garbage cans full of white plastic bags lined Old Highway 18 east of Port Gibson, awaiting a final pickup today.

Under the contract with HBLC, that area of the county had garbage collection every Wednesday, said resident Hazel Hulbert.

She said her can would be taken away today, and said she did not know if she would be allowed to put her garbage in a can once the county takes responsibility for the pickups

The county plans to use inmate labor to remove the trash, Sheriff Marvin Lucas has said. Deputies will not be escorting trash trucks, which will have a driver and two trusty inmates on the back, Lucas said. The garbage truck driver will be responsible for the inmates while they are on the road. Inmates will be picked up from a Jefferson/Franklin County Correctional Facility in Fayette, Lucas said.

Fayette is about 19 miles south of Port Gibson on U.S. 61.

The Claiborne County Jail is not approved to hold state inmates, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Trusty status, a program of the state, is available to nonviolent offenders who are not convicted as habitual offenders, according to MDOC. Sex offenders also are not allowed trusty status.

Green said he was dissatisfied with the county’s choice to use inmate labor for trash collection.

“It’s one thing to have them out here doing the road ditches, but it gets a little more personal when they start picking your trash up,” Green said. “I’m already having to look over my shoulder; I don’t want to have to worry about something else.”

If trash pickup resumes as scheduled, no significant health risks are expected, Mississippi Department of Health officials said.