AMITE—Tangipahoa Parish leaders are using more resources than ever before to combat the area’s litter problem, relying now on the additional manpower of criminal offenders to clean up our parish.
Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess says that since the first of the year, nearly 3,200 bags of garbage have been collected by community service workers and inmate crews who are cleaning up along local roadways.
The programs, strategic partnerships between parish government and law enforcement, ensure additional manpower for litter pick up, which is happening on a nearly six-day-per week schedule.
“The parish relies on two different partnerships with the Sheriff’s Office and the courts to help our Road and Bridge program get trash off the roads and out of drainage ditches and laterals,” Burgess said.
The first partnership, the DWI Community Service Workers Litter Pick Up Program, represents a cooperative effort between the parish and the court system. In this effort, the court system sentences a DWI offender to 16 hours of community service which is performed over the course of two eight-hour days picking up roadside litter.
Burgess said offenders report to parish’s maintenance yard at 7 a.m. and ride caravan style with parish workers to the clean up sites. There, they put in a full eight-hour day.
In the first six months of this year, the DWI Community Service Workers have collected 1,155 bags of trash. The program only operates on alternating Saturdays, and so far this year, an estimated 1,592 service hours have been performed by DWI offenders to clean up local roadways.
The second partnership is the parish’s Inmate Litter Abatement Program, which works Monday through Friday each week to collect litter off parish roads. Inmate labor is utilized, under the direct supervision of a retired TPSO deputy who works for the road and bridge office.
The goal of this crew is to clean up local roadways prior to the Road and Bridge mowers coming through to cut grass and ditches.
“This way, our workers can get right to the heart of their jobs, keeping them on task with keeping the grass cut while preventing the garbage in the overgrowth from being mulched with the yard waste,” Burgess said.
Although these teams are taking large quantities of litter off parish roads, Tangipahoa has a long way to go in the litter abatement battle, Burgess said.
Burgess said statistics from the first half of this year show that many of the roads where major clean ups have taken place continue to collect trash even after the litter crews come in.
“We had one road in the south end of the parish where these crews picked up 21 bags of trash over a two-day period in April. Two months to the day later, our crews returned and picked up 14 more bags of litter. I think that speaks volumes about the problem we are facing with litter in our parish,” Burgess said.
Not only is litter ugly, but trash clogs up drainage outlets, creating major issues when it rains.
“It’s an unending cycle,” Burgess said, noting that his office gets calls both litter and drainage problems caused by the trash along our roadsides.
Burgess said education programs and awareness campaigns have not made a dent in this overwhelming problem.
“The community has to get on board,” Burgess said, adding that without everyone pitching in, the problem is likely to continue to worsen.
For more information on how you can help with litter abatement in Tangipahoa Parish, contact Parish Government at (985) 748-3211.