Laurel County roads and shoulders are the dirtiest they’ve been in years, according to city and county officials, with no work release crews available to clean up the litter.

“I get calls almost daily about litter,” London Public Works Director Steve Edge said. “We have crews out every day. The amount of money it costs taxpayers to clean up litter is astonishing.”

Edge and Laurel County Solid Waste Coordinator Jim Ed McDaniel used to rely on work release crews — made up of Laurel County Detention Center prisoners considered trustworthy enough to work outdoors — to keep up with the pace.

But McDaniel said he hasn’t had help from work release prisoners since October — either for road litter pick-up or recycling.

“For two weeks we had inmates after the layoffs,” he said.

Edge is in the same boat.

“We usually keep a crew full-time, five days a week,” he said. “Last time we had a crew out was a little bit before Christmas.”

Edge said he was told the jail could no longer release the crews because of a shortage of guards.

“They didn’t have enough guards to bring them out,” Edge said.

Previously, the city’s work release crew was managed by a guard who worked for the Laurel County Detention Center but whose salary was paid for by the City of London.

“We paid the jail every month for his labor,” Edge said.

Near the end of last year, that guard was pulled to work in the jail.

Laurel County Judge-Executive Lawrence Kuhl said he was not sure of the reason why the jail is no longer sending work release crews to help the county.

“We as a court have been asking why it’s been less,” he said. “We want to address that.”

First District Mag-istrate Roy Crawford said he, Kuhl, McDaniel and others had a meeting with Jailer Jack Sizemore scheduled for Monday morning but Sizemore was a no-show.

Sizemore could not be reached for comment.

Officials said both the city and county rely on the work release crews. McDaniel said they picked up 1,240 bags of trash from county roads in February 2007.

“They spent 160 hours on road litter,” he said. “They averaged cleaning 6.5 miles each day, and they picked up an average of 62 bags per day.”

Apart from the absence of work release crews, officials also blamed a suffering economy and lack of education for the increased litter on the roads.

“There was a real big push on littering (in schools),” Mayor Troy Rudder said. “A lot of that has slowed down. We don’t see as much of it as we used to. We don’t see it happening in elementaries. We’re in that cycle now of where it’s not being pushed like it used to.”

Edge added with the state of the economy, people may not have the money to pay for garbage pick-up — which is not mandatory in the county.

“You see the economy getting worse,” he said. “Garbage is the first thing people cut.”

To rectify the problem, Rudder said he is working with the London Police Department.

“We’re going to start ticketing a lot of people,” he said. “We’re going to start emphasizing that more.”

Kuhl said he will likewise encourage the Sheriff’s Office to cite more people for littering.

“If you can cite someone, bring them in,” he said. “But we don’t want them paying money. We want them (cleaning up) on the side of the road. We want to make an example of them.”



Staff writer Tara Ka-prowy can be reached by e-mail at tkaprowy@sentinel-echo.com.

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