Jackson County Supervisors Upset About Debris Pickups

Arlin Richard used a rake and a wheelbarrow to move hurricane debris off his Race Track Road property. That was a long time ago. "Like I said, two months it's been sitting there," the Jackson County man said.

In his mind, it was sitting there, basically being ignored by the crews hired to haul off Jackson County's hurricane debris. "They pass this way every day, all those big trucks. A hundred times a day," Richard said. "But they just keep going."

Richard figured that by now, one of those trucks would remove his mess. So did Jackson County supervisor Frank Leach. "I was not happy before Thanksgiving. And I'm still not happy," the district four supervisor said.

So at Monday's board meeting, Leach vented his frustrations about Jackson County's debris removal process. For two hours, Leach and his supervisor colleagues tried to hash out their hurricane debris concerns. Leach's main gripes were with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Ashbritt -- the two groups hired to oversee the project. "I have little or no mercy with regard to what I think you have done to this county and continue to do," he said, referring to all the debris still in the unincorporated sections of Jackson County.

Col. Tony Vesay represented the Corps. "This is an unprecedented event," the colonel said. He often found himself defending everything the Corps had done. "Katrina violated the people here once, on 29 August, it violated the people here once. We're not going to violate you a second time," Vesay said.

Despite the debris piles still on Race Track Road, the Colonel stressed that about 90% of Jackson County's debris in right of ways had been cleared. Yet, in the eyes of supervisors, that wasn't good enough. Afterall, Manly Barton said, it had been three months since the hurricane. "So there's been a lot of frustration at this table in trying to deal with these issues," he said.

One of the issues was that landfill owners hadn't been paid almost three million dollars to accept the hurricane debris. At Monday's meeting, Ashbritt representatives said they would make sure the proper paperwork was available so all bills could be paid in a timely manner.