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County needs cleaner roadsides

By Preston Ray Garrett

We are now actually into the second month of 2016 and for the first time in my 48 years I have kept a New Year’s resolution. 

I have been starting each weekday with a morning walk. Sadly, this quiet walk each morning has provided me an opportunity to notice the disgraceful amount of litter on the sides of our county roads.   

A walking pace of from three to four miles an hour gives one a completely different perspective than zooming down the road on the way to work every morning.

The amount of trash on the sides of our county roads is shocking,  This blight on our county should be removed and all residents of Lafayette County should join me in asking our elected officials to immediately address this problem. 

Admittedly, I do not recall any candidate running on a campaign promise of freeing Lafayette County of litter, but we all need to now ask them to act. 

Everyone reading this column should call their county supervisor and ask that a portion of the county budget be directly tied to providing funding for the Lafayette County sheriff to monitor county inmates given the task of picking up trash from the sides of our roadways. We have all seen a few inmates out occasionally, but this should be made a daily practice until the roadways are pristine. 

Time spent picking up trash on a cold morning or a hot afternoon might well lead a person to reflect on how he or she came to be there. Such reflection, combined with physical labor, might prevent them from finding themselves there again.

Residents should also call on our Justice Court judges to impose a public service element to sentences for misdemeanor crimes that specifically includes trash pick-up in addition to a fine whenever the law allows. When possible, these sentences should be carried out on Saturdays in order to actually take away the free time of the offender and not interfere with otherwise gainful employment or education. 

Finally, residents should call on our representatives in the state legislature to enact legislation tying long-term unemployment benefits to service in the public sector. There are entirely too many people who continually draw these benefits because they assert that they can not find employment.

The truth is that they can not find a job they want. There is no reason that they can not aid in cleaning up our roadways while they look for their perfect job.

These ideas may not reduce crime nor reduce the time required for the chronically unemployed to find work. Then again, acting on these suggestions just might and at the very least the county roadways would be cleaner.

Preston Ray Garrett is an Oxford attorney. 
Contact him at ray@garrettfridayandgarner.com.