DeSoto Supervisors aim to clean up this county, but instead of a posse, it'll be with a passel of friends, family and fellow fans of a tidier environment as board members' teams deploy during the annual Spring Cleanup, April 29 through May 6.

The effort, which got the supervisors' official endorsement on Monday, kicks off with County-Wide Cleanup Day on Saturday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to noon.

"I'm going to get my gang together and we're going to go for a win," said Supervisor Michael Lee of Hernando, board president. Lee and the other board members again pledged to assemble teams competing to collect the most litter in answer to the challenge from Ray Laughter, county Director of Environmental Services and Parks, Spring Cleanup organizer along with the Keep DeSoto County Beautiful board.

Laughter, who also serves as Keep DeSoto Beautiful director, said he hopes citizens, homeowners' associations, churches, school clubs and community organizations also heed the call as they have before.

"Last year we had at least 200 volunteers and dozens of teams collecting tons of trash," said Laughter. "This year we're aiming for 250 or more volunteers."

Groups and individuals can take advantage of the cleanup by clearing rubbish from their properties and adopting a section of road or intersection, said Laughter. "Through their representation within Keep DeSoto Beautiful, all five county municipalities will be participating as well."

To volunteer, adopt a site or get more information, call 662-469-8152, email environmentalservices@desotocountyms.gov or visit the "Spring Clean-Up" page at desotocountyms.gov.

Road cleanup kits will be available for pickup from Monday, April 24, through Friday, April 28, at the DeSoto County Administration Building at 365 Losher St. in downtown Hernando.

The weeklong campaign seeks old furniture and mattresses, lumber, carpet, bricks, limbs, metal, plastic toys, fencing and yard, attic and garage rubbish in general.

Not allowed are aerosols, all-purpose cleaners, antifreeze, batteries, tires, insecticides and herbicides, oil, paint and electronics; these items are the target of the county's annual fall haul-off of hazardous household waste.

Large roll-off bins from county contractor Waste Connections will be placed at 14 locations throughout the county for disposal of collected spring trash.

"We've partnered with various schools, parks, community centers and local fire departments to strategically locate the bins," said Laughter.

The bin locations are:

Lewisburg Elementary, 1717 Craft Road; Love Fire Department, 7345 U.S. 51 South; Nesbit Water Association, 901 Pleasant Hill Road; Summershill Fire Department No. 1, 7600 Pleasant Hill Road; Robertson-Donald Park, Miss. 301 Ball Park; Hernando Middle School, 700 Dilworth; Horn Lake Middle School, 6125 Hurt Road;

Cockrum Old Schoolhouse, 3960 Miss. 305 South; Fairhaven Fire Department, 13701 Centerhill Road; Bridgetown Fire Department, 3980 Malone Road; Walls Fire Department, 6085 Hwy. 161 North; Eudora Community Park, 9341 Miss. 304 West; ACI Ingrams Mill Fire Department, 4375 Red Banks Road South; and Greenbrook Park, 8440 Greenbrook Parkway.

"Keeping our county clean is a never-ending thing, and we hope people and groups can get together, maybe get out once a month, to pick up litter year-round," said Lee.

For the Cleanup Day kickoff, Lee said he expects to sign up wife Mary Helen, "our kids and their friends, and I may even get some Boy Scouts working with us." He said it's also a perfect time for a "church picnic and a cleanup at the same time."

Supervisor Mark Gardner of Southaven said the wedding of his daughter kept him from the 2016 opener, "but I'll be back this time. I've done it every year since last year, but (County Administrator) Vanessa Lynchard jumped in and handled District 2 for me."

In other cleanup matters that came before the supervisors, the board approved the job description for a new Environmental Services Litter Control Operator post, authorized advertising the job for applicants and OK'd a pay scale not to exceed $13 an hour.

Among other duties, the employee would oversee Sheriff's Department trusty labor for litter collection, and pick up litter himself or herself when trusty labor isn't available.

"If anyone says, 'That's not my job,' we'll know we hired the wrong person," said Supervisor Gardner.

Also, the supervisors gave an elderly woman an extra month to arrange for cleanup of her burned-out house on Braybourne Main in the Olive Branch area.

The board, at a public hearing during Monday's session, had voted to accept a quote of $7,250 to clear out the property, deemed an eyesore and threat to public health and safety, down to the slab and place the cost as a lien on property taxes. The woman's house burned almost two years ago, but "she's at a point where she doesn't have the money to repair it or tear it down," Laughter said.

The woman, who now lives in Byhalia, and a friend arrived at the meeting just after the hearing, saying they were delayed by traffic.

After the woman's friend said there was a prospective property buyer who possibly could handle demolition and debris removal, the supervisors reopened the hearing and agreed to give the woman time, to their board's April 17 meeting, to work out a sale and acceptable cleanup and avoid a lien. The hearing was continued to that date.

"I'm glad y'all came," Supervisor Jessie Medlin of Olive Branch told the pair.

Laughter said, "We're hopeful; we want to work with her on resolving this."

"Bless her heart," said Supervisor Bill Russell of Walls. "You could see she was struggling."

The board welcomed Laughter's report that Brynn McCarver, Environmental Specialist in his department, had completed State of Mississippi Commercial Rubbish Site Operator Certification. Such training is a rubbish pit permit requirement of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, and comes under state statute.

"This training teaches better management skills and new procedures which will help extend the life and lower the overall cost associated with the operation of our (rubbish pit) facility," said Laughter. McCarver joins Laughter and Environmental Officer David Wright in having certification, which calls for 24 hours of continuing education within a three-year period to maintain the designation.

Henry Bailey is Contributing Writer and Copy Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He can be contacted at hbailey@desotitimestribune.com and at 662-429-6397, Ext. 241.

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