By STEVEN NALLEY
The city of Starkville recently received a two-year, $13,500 grant from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to defray solid waste code enforcement.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said the grant pays $6,750 per year toward salary and benefits for a solid waste code enforcement officer. He said he is grateful to Emma Gandy, Starkville director of sanitation and environmental services, for her help in obtaining the grant.
â€śMs. Gandy did an excellent job pursuing this grant opportunity which provides the city with cost savings for our code enforcement program,â€ť Wiseman said. â€śWe already have a code enforcement officer, so the grant will help defray costs the city was already incurring for the enforcement of solid waste disposal regulations.â€ť
Gandy said Starkvilleâ€™s code enforcement officer, Jeff Lyles, handles multiple types of code violations. If the city had an officer who specifically and solely enforced solid waste codes, the city would have been eligible for double the grant amount.
â€śWe applied for this grant back in October,â€ť Gandy said. â€śThis is our first time (receiving this grant), and itâ€™s a two-year grant, so weâ€™re pretty much guaranteed this amount for the next two years. Our code enforcement officer has a big job to do, and the solid waste enforcement is a big part of that.â€ť
Gandy said the city applied for the grant because the city has faced issues with litter, illegal dumping of tires and other solid waste code violations. She said the grant money will help Lyles not only enforce codes and reduce violations, but also educate people who may not be aware of certain codes.
â€śMr. Lyles has done a very good job of discussing (codes) with the citizens,â€ť Gandy said. â€śIf theyâ€™re in violation, heâ€™ll explain it to them. He doesnâ€™t just hand out violations.â€ť
Increased awareness of and compliance with solid waste codes is important, Gandy said, because noncompliance can be a public safety risk. For instance, she said, something as simple as putting out garbage on the wrong day can be a public health risk.
â€śThe first thing that comes to my mind is garbage thatâ€™s illegally discarded that may attract rodents, (which) carry disease,â€ť Gandy said. â€śItâ€™s a big umbrella when you start looking at solid waste enforcement.â€ť