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County hoping to clean up dirty streets

By Justin Reedy

The piles of discarded trash, cigarette butts and dead leaves accumulating in street gutters around Clayton County could soon be getting cleaned up.

Clayton County is considering buying a street sweeper that will circulate through the county and clean up the curbs and gutters that line its roads. The purchase is one the county has been considering for a while, officials say, because of the unsightly refuse that often piles up at street corners.

"You can go to any intersection you want to in the county, especially our main thoroughfares, and see why we need one," said Commissioner Charley Griswell, who pushed for the county to get a street sweeper. "Everyone pulls up to the stoplight and throws out cigarette butts, and they build up there at the corners."

When Janet Radack was driving along Tara Boulevard near Jonesboro recently, she noticed just such a pile of discarded cigarettes along the curb.

"I wondered if they ever bothered to clean that stuff up," said the Morrow resident. "They need to use (a street sweeper)."

Jonesboro resident Alex Williams also thinks firing up a street sweeper in the county's unincorporated areas is a good idea. Most of the cities in Clayton County already operate street sweepers.

"You don't see it in the neighborhood I live in so much, but you do see (trash piling up in gutters) in some places," Williams said. "I think a sweeper would help."

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners will likely acquire the street sweeper for $103,964 from the low bidder, Consolidated Disposal Systems of Smyrna. Not all county residents think the county should be spending so much money on a street sweeper, though.

"I think they should put some more money into health care for people without health insurance," said Jonesboro resident Debra Owens. "That would be a better way for them to spend $100,000. It seems to me most people are going to take care of the spot in front of their houses. I think there's better ways to spend that money."

If the county buys the sweeper, it will hit major intersections and roads, in addition to as many arterial or connector roads with a curb and gutter as possible, according to Wayne Patterson, director of transportation and development for the county.

Depending on how much territory the sweeper and its one-man crew can cover, Patterson said, it might even branch out into area subdivisions to clean up leaves that can clog storm drains. If the street sweeping program is well-received, he added, the county could try and expand later to include more sweepers and cover more of the county's roads.

The commission will discuss the acquisition at its work session meeting today at 9 a.m. in the county Administration Building, 112 Smith St., Jonesboro.

In other business, the commission will also discuss the following items:

* The purchase of two ambulances, one pumper truck and three fire hose driers for the county Fire Department at a total cost of $500,230.

* The purchase of desks, chairs, cubicles and other furnishings, as well as a mobile filing system, for the county's new combined Emergency-911/Police Headquarters n which is still under construction n at a total cost of $784,642.

* Review of the rule prohibiting county government employees from running for political office at the county level.