Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 11, 2016

Department of Human Services representative Patsy Kilpatrick (left) was one of those meeting with Panola County supervisors to discuss the county’s littering problems. Others included (from left) Road Manager Lygunnah Bean, District One Justice Court Judge Mike Wilson and Judge Charlie Baglan of District Two. The Panolian photo by Rupert Howell

SNAP  recipients assigned trash duty

By Rupert Howell
SNAP recipients may soon be required to pick up Panola County’s roadside litter following Monday’s meeting of Panola supervisors in Batesville.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, provides monthly benefits that help low income households buy food.
In an effort to battle a decades- old problem of roadside litter, supervisors were joined by representatives of law enforcement, Department of Human Services, the County Solid Waste Department, Panola County’s state/local inmate work program, the county road department and two local judges in a round table discussion of littering problems that continue to plague Panola County.
The county last week first discussed using the Department of Human Services benefit recipients to assist with picking up roadside litter along with, but separate, from current state inmates and law violators working off their fines.
DHS worker Patsy Kilpatrick explained SNAP beneficiaries’ payment could be divided by the $7.25 minimum hour rate to determine how many hours they could work.
County Administrator Kelley Magee noted, “We can’t make them work, but they can lose their benefits.”
But Monday’s discussion did not just include trash pickup, it also included enforcement of existing laws, prosecuting those found in violation and education of those unaware or uncaring.
District One Justice Court Judge Mike Wilson was careful not to sound biased during Monday’s meeting and said later that branches of government are separate and everybody has a role to play in seeing that laws are enforced. He then indicated issuance of penalties for breaking litter laws depended on proof.
After complaints about some of the roadside litter coming from the garbage trucks themselves, Magee emphasized that all household garbage was required by county regulation to be put into bags, a regulation either not known or often not followed throughout the county.
Justice Court Judge Charlie Baglan said, “I have personally witnessed garbage coming from garbage trucks that belong to the county,” and later explained he was referring to transport trucks that haul garbage from the Courtland transfer station near his home to landfills outside the county.
“Highway 51 from here (Batesville) to Pope is as bad as I have ever seen,” Baglan said before stating, “A lot of it is happening on weekends . . . (there are) hamburger wrappers everywhere.”
Road manager Lygunnah Bean’s department is expected to use any SNAP recipients as workers but he explained, “I think we can educate it out. I don’t think we can enforce it out,” speaking of taking the issues to students in local schools.
Baglan referred to the stop smoking campaign when his children were young noting they turned him into a “closet smoker” even before he gave it up.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox