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Natchez bringing in inmate help for storm clean up

NATCHEZ — Natchez Public Works and inmate laborers will help haul off Hurricane Delta debris for city residents beginning as early as Monday next week, officials said.

During their Tuesday regularly scheduled meeting, the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen unanimously passed motions granting the emergency authority for the city to transport 8 to 10 inmates from the state prison in McComb and to allow the inmates and city workers to pick up curbside debris.

Those who require debris cleanup must do their best to have organic material such as tree limbs — no furniture or household garbage — cut into manageable amounts and placed near the curb for removal, officials said.

Officials said a city ordinance previously prevented the workers from clearing debris that were not bundled to specific size requirements.

Since the hurricane caused widespread damage in October, cleaning up the debris from trees has been an ongoing issue for area residents, officials said.

“In some cases, my elderly constituents are not able to easily dispose of those,” Alderman Dan Dillard said, adding many constituents do not have the financial means to hire workers to assist with clean up.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said Natchez Public Works lost an average of 8 to 10 inmate laborers because of COVID-19.

The privately owned prison in Woodville that traditionally would supply inmate labor for Natchez declined to do so because of the pandemic, Gibson said.

Using the McComb prison instead adds about 20 minutes to the trip to transport inmates, he said, adding there were almost no inmate laborers available in the Adams County Jail.

“Unless it is a very serious matter, the Adams County inmates are bonded out, again because of COVID,” Gibson said.

With the Board of Aldermen’s approval, Gibson said Natchez could begin utilizing McComb inmates next week after a transport arrangements have been made.

The city’s transport van does not meet the social distancing guidelines for COVID-19, and arrangements are being made with and Natchez Transit for a different vehicle to be used, he said.

Gibson said details about curbside pickup for debris are forthcoming.

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