Ray Laughter, DeSoto County Environmental Services Manager and Olive Branch area residents Carla Jasick and daughters Lucy, 8, and Casey, 11, flank recycling receptacles outside the DeSoto County Administrative Building.

Robert Long|DTT

Residents in rural, unincorporated DeSoto County will have the opportunity this fall to receive curbside recycling, effective Oct. 1, following approval Monday of a six-year contract by the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors to garbage/recycling provider Waste Pro.

DeSoto County is only the third county in the state, along with Harrison and Jackson counties to offer curbside recycling in unincorporated areas and the first county in the Magnolia State in which all major cities offer recycling along with unincorporated areas.

The monthly cost to residents will be $8.66 for once-a-week recycling and garbage pickup, which includes a recycling bin that can be placed alongside garbage receptacles.

Right now, residents are paying approximately 40 cents less for garbage pickup only. Rural residents pay $8.24 for regular garbage pickup and will now be able to recycle and have their garbage picked up for a few cents more.

"This is exciting for DeSoto County," District 5 Supervisor and Board President Michael Lee said during a press conference Monday. "Hopefully, this will help get citizens out here recycling."

Lee said that he and his family have been recycling for years. "It becomes second nature," added Lee.

"We will make it a lot easier for people to recycle," said District 1 Supervisor Jessie Medlin. "They can roll out their bin to the street with their garbage. We've had a lot of calls about this over the years. We've got to get our children educated about this (recycling). They will educate mama and daddy."

Medlin noted that taxpayers are already paying $20.36 per ton to haul away many recyclable items to the landfill. The recycling effort will reduce that amount and thus reduce the cost to the taxpayers, according to Medlin.

"I will be glad to haul my bin to the road," Medlin said.

"There will be labels on the cans showing what you can put in in the cans," added District 3 Supervisor Bill Russell. "Everybody in the city and in the county can now recycle." Russell said he has been recycling for years, as has his colleague, District 2 Supervisor Mark Gardner.

"I like Supervisor Russell live in Southaven," Gardner said. "I have been recycling for many years. It's so easy. You put in your paper, aluminum and glass products in the can and roll it out to the curb. We will keep our landfills from going out of their bounds."

District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell said recycling is simply the right thing to do for the environment.

"We want to be good stewards of our earth," Caldwell said, adding that recycling will also assist the county with combatting litter. "It's a win-win for all of us."

DeSoto County Administrator Vanessa Lynchard said the approval of a countywide recycling contract represented "hours and hours" of work on behalf of the county's solid waste committee. "It's a great rate. It (contract) came with a lot of commitment from the Board."

Supervisors also went out of their way to praise current solid waste contractor, Waste Connection. Waste Connection's proposed cost was $11.32 per month. The third company, Inland, submitted a bid of $16.52.

"We've had very few complaints," said Medlin, adding he wishes that company's bid had been a little more competitive. DeSoto County officials are bound by law to accept the lowest and best bid for any professional service.

Caldwell agreed. "It's very hard to make the change," Caldwell said of changing waste providers.

DeSoto County Manager of Environmental Services Ray Laughter said residents have been lobbying for countywide recycling for years. He singled out praise for Carla Jasick, a Birmingham transplant and Chicago native.

For her part, Jasick said she was surprised to learn that recycling in unincorporated areas had not been made available.

"We've lived around the country," Jasick said. "I was really shocked we didn't have recycling here," added Jasick, who lives in the Lewisburg School District area. "The first two weeks I lived here, I said, wait — we can't be without recycling. It will be good for Mississippi and our county."

Russell praised Laughter for working towards the goal of making countywide recycling a reality.

"We wouldn't be here without Ray and his team," Russell said.

Sign-up lists will be voluntary, and can be made by checking off the place on one's bill that you wish to participate in recycling.

The effective start-up date is Oct. 1.

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