AMITE — Tangipahoa parish government is inaugurating a new program to target litter by having people sentenced to community service on DWI convictions pick up the trash and by using cameras to identify people who throw litter and large items on the sides of parish roads, Parish President Gordon Burgess told the Parish Council on Monday.
On the first and third Saturdays of every month, two five-person teams of DWI offenders sentenced to perform community service will work eight-hour days picking up litter, said Andy Currier, the parish’s building inspector. A parish employee will supervise each team, which will have trucks and litter trailers to complete the assignments.
Currier, who also oversees litter control, said that in the past, DWI offenders were allowed to perform their community service at other parish venues, but that starting in October, this labor will be assigned to litter cleanup as a priority. “You will be getting 160 hours of free labor to help clean up the parish each month,” Currier said.
One crew will be assigned to the northern end of the parish and the other to the southern end, he said. While the crews will primarily work rural parish roads, some areas within municipalities may also receive the litter remediation assistance, he said.
The parish has obtained four surveillance cameras, two permanent ones and two mobile units, in an attempt to apprehend litterers, Currier said, and all four cameras will be operational by next week.
Litter has been an ongoing concern for council members.
Councilman Nicky Muscarello, for example, said North Oak Street on the northern edge of the Hammond city limits “looks like a Third World country. … It is horrible and the tragedy is that if the road is cleaned today, it will be filthy tomorrow.”
Burgess said the area had been cleaned recently and it will be closely monitored in the future.
Councilman Bobby Cortez asked that attention be paid to areas under the Manchac Bridge that attract litter and garbage disposal.
Council President David Vial observed: “It is going to take cooperation from the parish president, the council, organizations such as Keep Hammond Beautiful, Tangi Clean and volunteers to get the litter problem in the parish under control.”
In an unrelated matter Monday, the council unanimously accepted the annual report on assessed property value in the parish from Assessor Joaquin “Junior” Matheu. He said the parish had a “healthy growth” of 2.9 percent over the previous year.
The assessor said the parish has seen almost constant growth in the value of assessed property since he first took office in 2005. He noted that in the post-Hurricane Katrina years, the assessed value of property in the parish grew at a fast clip and families relocated to Tangipahoa Parish from flood-prone areas to the south.
In other action, the council set Halloween trick or treat hours of 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31.