Dedicated litter cleanup efforts on state roadways by inmates in Clark County will begin later this year after the Board of Clark County Commissioners accepted a $200,000 grant on Wednesday.
The grant, worth approximately $100,000 each year through June of 2015, was awarded by the Ohio Department of Transportation and will create an additional environmental officer position through the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. The grant was approved at Wednesday’s commission meeting.
Sheriff Gene Kelly said the county has had a grant with ODOT to pay for cleanup efforts on weekends and evenings on Interstate 70 over the last few years.
The new grant will allow for year-round cleanup efforts on other highways throughout the county, including I-70, Interstate 675, U.S. 42, U.S. 40, Ohio 72, Ohio 4 and Ohio 41. The inmates will work an eight-hour shift along the interstates throughout the year and will work with the environmental enforcement officers to clean up debris on highways and interstates.
“This will be another opportunity for us to put inmates to work,” Kelly said. “I think everyone wins in this program.”
The PRIDE program uses inmates from the Clark County Jail to clean up trash and debris township and county roads, as well as other beautification efforts through the Clark County Solid Waste District. Kelly said the program instills work ethic in the inmates, while allowing them to work time off their sentences.
“It gives them an incentive,” Kelly said, “and keeps them out of the jail.”
Alice Godsey, the director of the Clark County Solid Waste District, said the program will add to keeping Clark County clean.
“We’re hoping it will have a dramatic effect on the aesthetics in Clark County,” Godsey said. “We’ll have the resources to pick up litter and keep it up.”
There will little upfront costs, Kelly said. The department will use an old transport van for the program, and ODOT pays for both the bags and bag pick-up.
Godsey said the additional officer will provide more time for the other two environmental officers to focus on other tasks, such as responding to illegal dumping calls and other beautification efforts.
Kelly said the position will be posted in a few weeks. He also plans to speak with judges about making certain inmates eligible immediately for the PRIDE program.
“It will speed up the process,” Kelly said.
Last year, the PRIDE program picked up 1,223 bags of trash on 111 miles of roadway. In 2013, the program has picked up 1,466 bags of trash along 124 miles of roadway so far.
They’re hoping the number increases with the additional funds being pumped into program.
“This has been one of the biggest success stories in Clark County,” Kelly said.