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Garbage Pickup, Jail Linger Into 2013

Commentary by David Howell

WATER VALLEY – Last year we were on the money (mostly) with our prediction of issues in the county that would warrant attention in 2012.
    Among our predictions was an ordinance addressing vicious dogs in the county. Although there was little talk about the ordinance for much of the year, it was propelled to the top of the supervisors’ agenda in November following a complaint involving two Rottweilers that terrorized a neighborhood.
    A vicious dog ordinance was adopted later that month and became law on December 22. The ordinance is not breed specific, but regulates dogs deemed dangerous or potentially dangerous on a case-by-case basis in unincorporated areas of Yalobusha.
    More importantly dogs can still run loose in the county, the ordinance only pertains to those mean dogs.   If the dog meets specific criteria, the owner will be required to pay $50 annually to register it. Additionally the dog will have to be properly restrained.
    The ordinance also places responsibility on a dog owner prior to an actual problem occurring.
    The bulk of enforcement falls on the sheriff’s department, who will make an initial assessment  to see if the dog is “vicious” following a complaint.
    We also predicted the jail would be a big topic in 2012 – admittedly an easy forecast as the construction of a new county jail has been  been in the limelight for several years as  supervisors have contemplated options to replace the 1964-model facility. Two key factors have driven this movement – overcrowding and state scrutiny.
    Little progress was made in 2012, much of the attention focused on jockeying for a location for the new facility.
    Now for our prediction in 2013: an architect will be hired and a contractor hired to start what could be as much as an 18-month construction time. That may sound like a sure bet, but with snags that have popped up along the way I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.
    Not to mention the estimated $3 million expense to construct a  building to house criminals doesn’t make any taxpayer in the county very happy. If you have a suggestion to save this $3 million, I am sure the sheriff and supervisors would welcome it.
    Meanwhile you can expect thousands to be spent in 2013  to nurse the old jail along. The plumbing is shot, according to the sheriff. Plus the commodes are obsolete, making replacement parts extremely hard to obtain.
    On to another 2012 prediction – redistricting. We missed this as supervisors agreed unanimously not take this step.
    Although the population had not shifted that much after the 2010 Census, it was enough to trigger redistricting. But supervisors agreed to put this on hold indefinitely.
    Now for our prediction for lingering issues that will garner attention in 2013 in addition to the jail. How about another stinky subject – garbage.
    The county is required to provide curbside garbage pickup for each and every house in unincorporated areas. For almost a dozen years Resourceful Environ-mental Services (R.E.S.) has provided this service. Compared to surrounding counties the company has a competitive rate, $10.88 per can per month.
    The problem has been service related. Supervisors have fielded numerous calls in the last 18 months about missed routes. The current contract will expire in early 2013 and it’s time for new bids.
    At least one supervisors has commented that if another company has a bid close to R.E.S., they will get careful consideration.
    R.E.S. owns the cans for almost 3,000 customers in the county, making the up-front cost for another company to bid on the job a big factor in the equation.
    Supervisors hired a consultant at $75 per hour to help draft a new bid proposal for garbage bidders, a smart move considering the new multi-year contract will push a million dollars.
    And while many decisions made at the board table may not affect everybody, garbage pickup comes pretty darn close and you can bet they want to get it right.

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