CHARLESTON - A law to clean up Mississippi County should be the next piece of business for Mississippi County commissioners, according to Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg.
Blumenberg said accumulations of junk and trash in yards as well as illegal dumping on county roads are growing problems for the county. "It's out of hand, it has got to stop," he said.
Officials are currently focused on finishing the budget for 2005, but once the county budget is approved, Blumenberg said commissioners should pass an ordinance addressing eyesores in the county.
County Clerk Junior DeLay said commissioners should have the prosecuting attorney draft the ordinance.
Blumenberg said county crews are having a hard time keeping up with the illegal dumpers. "We've been out two or three days and we aren't even making a dent," he said of the clean-up efforts.
Commissioner Homer Oliver suggested requiring a license for junkyards. "That won't stop the bootleggers," Blumenberg said.
Waste building materials are a large part of the illegal dumping problem, commissioners agreed. "They load up after dark," Commissioner Martin Lucas said.
Blumenberg said he followed one trailer that was loaded with trash recently but the driver wouldn't stop and dump while being followed.
Commissioners are still waiting on a police report on illegal burning in the Whiting community so they can pass it on to the Department of Natural Resources, according to Blumenberg. Someone reportedly has been burning the insulation off copper wire and burning Styrofoam. "That creates fumes that cause respiratory problems," Lucas said.
Blumenberg said there are also places in the community where residents have junk and trash stacked next to their neighbors.
"There's no sense in allowing it and no sense in violating your neighbors' rights," Blumenberg said. "It's got to be a health hazard."
In other business for commissioners during Thursday's meeting:
* A law enforcement education contract was approved by commissioners.
DeLay explained the sheriff can pay for training for new deputies out of the law enforcement training fund. The employee in turn signs an agreement to stay with the department for two years or pay for the training pro-rated for how long they stayed.
* Commissioners received the annual report and request for funding from the Mississippi County University Extension Council.
"We're hat in hand this year," said Britton Ferrell, chairman of the County Extension Council.
Ferrell said the extension would like $500 more than was budgeted last year. "For the most part it's the same as last year," he said of the council's budget. "We don't anticipate any extra expenses. Utilities might go down some." He said the council did work on the windows to eliminate a draft.
Mary Engram, human development specialist, discussed programs for teen mothers and grandparents raising their grandchildren.
She said 321 grandparents in the county are raising their grandchildren. Those participating in the program don't work, "so they're on a fixed income of some sort," Engram said.
Marilyn Williams, youth development specialist, discussed activities such as community cleanups geared toward helping the handicapped and assisting with the Kenny Rogers Children's Center telethon.
Other programs for youth "help them to be more independent and help around the house," she said.
Agronomy Specialist Anthony Ohmes reported the master gardener program was a great success in 2004 with Mississippi County having "one of the largest classes in the state."
He said the first regional corn meeting was also a "very successful meeting - we had 95 there."
"We appreciate the support," Ferrell said in closing. "It keeps the doors open."
* Claudia Arington, executive director of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, presented the Mississippi County Tourism Council's annual report and request for funding.
* Budget requests from county offices must be in by today, DeLay said: "They are due on the 15th, but that's a Saturday."
* The road to Ten Mile Pond has been closed. The road to Four Mile Pond is also closed as it is under water.