CHARLESTON -- The first to complain, first to get mowed system isn't quite working out for Mississippi County.
Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said during the regular County Commission meeting Thursday that the county's roadsides and ditches look worse than they have for a long time.
"We've got to get some mowing done," he said. "It looks sloppy. ... To me, we look sloppier than we've ever looked."
He said the county needs to set priorities instead of just responding to complaints.
"We're going to have to do something about this skipping here and there," Blumenberg said. "I think it's just wasteful."
He said that instead of jumping around the county responding to complaints, areas that need mowing should be placed on a list so county crews can work their way across the county.
"It doesn't matter who they are, put them on the list," Blumenberg said.
Richard Wallace, county road and bridge superintendent, agreed that if his crews keep hopping around the county responding to complaints, they "can't get a whole lot accomplished."
In related business, the Charleston City Council forwarded their concerns about Ditch 14 needing mowing, according to County Clerk Junior DeLay.
A letter brought to county officials by City Manager David Brewer advised that grass and weeds over 6 inches tall are considered a nuisance by the city.
Blumenberg said he thinks the Council is referring to the Ditch 14 section near the old Brown Shoe factory.
Commissioner Martin Lucas suggested spraying that whole area with herbicide. "Can you kill that deader than a doornail?" he asked Wallace.
Commissioners discussed a few brands of herbicide including one that is approved for water use.
Homer Oliver, commissioner, suggested using a lower-priced herbicide first to kill off the horseweed, "then see what's left."
Wallace said part of the mowing problem is due to the county's rubber-tired long-reach excavator being temporarily down so its transmission and hydraulics can be worked on. He said when the maintenance is complete, he will send it out with its mower attachment.
Wallace added that the long-reach excavator should be out working nearly year-round.
Also during the meeting, John Story, owner of a Charleston truck stop, asked if some maintenance could be done on the ditch near his business.
"It's a mosquito pit," he said. "It doesn't ever really drain."
He later added, "It doesn't hold a lot of water. I don't think it has a drainage problem ... it's just a mosquito den."
Oliver said the ditch will be addressed as soon as the long-reach excavator is back up and running.
Commissioners also reviewed a letter from Tony Ohmes of the local University Extension office regarding a Charleston resident's concern about Johnson grass getting into his garden.
Blumenberg said he is familiar with the problem area. "It's just a little alley but it's grown up pretty good," he said.
Commissioners agreed to direct Wallace to send someone to spray it.
Commissioners also agreed to get bids on a new Bush Hog-type mower and sell the county's old one.
In other county business Thursday:
* The contract for mowing both sides of 19.68 miles of county ditches was awarded to the sole bidder, Duty and Kestner of Benton, which offered to do the work for $33,456.
Commissioners agreed that even though only one bid was received, the price of $1,700 per mile for both ditch sides is very reasonable considering the high cost of fuel.
* Blumenberg said all the remaining blacktopping for this year needs to be completed in the next two or three weeks.
Wallace said he has about 1,000 gallons of sealing oil left for blacktopped roads in the county.
* Using Department of Corrections prisoners from the Southeast Correctional Center to assist the road and bridge department is working out well, according to Wallace.
"That's some of the best help I've got," he said.
* The Aug. 8 primary election results were certified.
"The verification board met on Wednesday morning," DeLay said. "There were no changes to the unofficial results."
* "Sales tax (revenue) is up 6.5 percent for the year," Blumenberg reported.
Commissioners speculated that county residents are purchasing more of their small items locally instead of driving out of town due to the high cost of fuel.
* The county has a couple applicants for the new county code enforcement position, although it appears as if they are looking for a full-time job.
"We're just wanting a part-timer to do this for us," Blumenberg said.
* Commissioners still have a vacancy to fill on the county's Senate Bill 40 board created by the resignation of Deema Atteberry.
* Oct. 10 is the deadline for county offices to turn in inventory lists, DeLay said.