Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day picks up trash during a city-wide clean-up effort April 13. A Morrow resident involved in similar projects wants to know why county-wide clean-up days are no longer organized.
MORROW John Keane is tired of trash pick-up in Clayton County being a discombobulated effort where Neighborhood Watches and community groups act out on their own.
Keane said he and his Neighborhood Watch group pick up trash on Maddox Road once every two months. Jonesboro Neighborhood Watch began organizing its own litter pick-up in the city this month. Lake City officials just held a clean-up day where residents could bring in their junk instead of dumping it on the side of the road.
Keane said there needs to be someone at the county level coordinating these efforts so Clayton County can be a cleaner place.
“The desire to clean this county is there,” Keane said. “We just need to have somebody organize it county-wide, and there has to be somebody at the county level who can do this.”
Clayton County has been without a permanent centralized organizer of litter control since commissioners voted to disband the Keep Clayton County Beautiful group in 2010, citing budgetary constraints. The city of Forest Park quickly adopted the group’s staff and it became Keep Forest Park Beautiful.
“I don’t understand it,” Keane said. “If you’re trying to clean up a county and pull it up some, I would think the first thing you want to do is make sure it looks half decent.”
Keane he recently saw jail inmates on the streets picking up trash on Maddox Road and was shocked by it because it was the first time since 2008 that he’d seen inmates being used for trash pick up. The inmates were regularly used for clean-up efforts during Sheriff Victor Hill’s first term from 2005 until 2008, but he was out of office for the next four years. He returned to office Jan. 1.
The four-year gap in inmate assistance, however, prompted the Neighborhood Watch to get involved in clean up efforts.
“Nobody was coming by to take care of it so we just started cleaning it up ourselves,” Keane said.
While Keane said the inmates assistance is a welcome asset, he wants to know why county officials stopped doing their Pick-Up Paper Day program, also known as PUP Day. The program was designed to bring community groups together to pick up trash around the county.
“Get out there, get these Neighborhood Watches together and get this thing going,” Keane said.
The county government organized a PUP Day in November 2011 with the promise that similar events would be held once every three months.
A Facebook page was set up to keep residents informed about future PUP dates. It has not been updated since Dec. 30, 2011.
A key reason why it’s gone dormant has been shifting staff in the commissioners office. Tamara Patridge was brought to the office from the Film, Sports and Entertainment Office to work for former County Manager Wade Starr on a temporary basis. Patridge started the PUP program but little has been heard about it since she went back to the film office last year.
Starr was then fired and his position was eliminated in January after commission Chairman Jeff Turner and Commissioner Shana Rooks took office.
Patridge said Clayton News Daily’s inquiries about PUP Days have prompted her to plan a meeting with Turner to suggest a revival of the program.
“It’s not dead,” Patridge said. “I need to circle back with Chairman Turner next week and let him know we still have this program and find out if there is anyone in the commissioners office interested in taking it over.”
Keane said trash has been an increasing problem since the county’s C-Tran bus service was discontinued in 2010. He suggested a revived PUP program should host clean-up days more often than was originally planned.
“There’s just too much trash so I would suggest it be done once every two months,” Keane said.