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Sweep making progress in county

By Justin Boron

Kelley Gordy, 27, got some help removing junk from her yard this week.

Her neighborhood off Devonshire Drive in Jonesboro was part of a county-wide initiative to bring neighborhoods into compliance with the county's environmental codes.

A quarter of the way through the program - which began this spring and is aimed at sweeping all UN-incorporated streets in the next two years - county officials say they are pleased with the success.

Using volunteers, county employees, and prisoners incarcerated at the Clayton County Correctional Institution, the program intends to remedy environmental problems, where fines and warnings from code enforcement officers have come up short.

After a sweep of the neighborhood, code enforcers follow up to ensure that residents are keeping things how the county left them.

"So hopefully, they don't do it again," said Micky Camp, the warden for the Clayton County 225-inmate correctional institution in Lovejoy. "And that's kind of the goal, to teach people that they need to keep their property presentable."

Prisoners involved in the cleanup are serving the latter part of their sentences, making them less of a flight and security risk, he said.

County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said he hopes the overall effect will be an environment that not only improves the county's appearance but pushes the community to raise the standard of its actions.

"A cleaner county is a well-behaved county," he said.

Commissioner Virginia Gray, who helped spearhead a similar project six years ago, said she is elated Bell has the same vision as her.

"The response from citizens, who have called or e-mailed their gratitude, has helped us measure the success of the project. It is interesting that some of the apathetic, who missed the opportunity to participate and inquired about our return to the neighborhoods, also praise the project and applaud the outcome.

"We still have a long way to go, but the project has sparked community awareness for fostering and maintaining the beauty of our surroundings," she said.

The next neighborhoods to receive the Clean Sweep treatment are Pinecrest Forest in Commissioner Carl Rhodenizer's district and Chase Wood's in Commissioner Charley Griswell's district.