Inmates are still picking up the trash

Robert Houk • Apr 17, 2019 at 12:00 AM

It’s been 37 years since the “Dirty Street Fighters” collected their first bag of trash, and inmates from Washington County Detention Center are still cleaning up the county.

Sheriff Ed Graybeal recently updated county commissioners on the continuing cleanup work of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Community Service Division, and the particulars of a new state litter grant. The $72,100 grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation requires no local matching funds, but the county is required to spend $21,630 on litter prevention education.

The sheriff told members of the county’s Budget Committee last week money from the litter grant program has “made a big difference” in Washington County since it began in 1982.

“It has allowed us to touch every end of the county,” Graybeal said.

The sheriff said the program also allows supervised inmates to get out of the detention center and earn release points for good behavior.

Graybeal said the Community Service Division collected 428,855 pounds of litter from the roadways of Washington County in 2018. Inmates working in the program this past year also:

• Cleaned up 23 illegal dumpsites.

• Removed 1,198 discarded tires.

• Picked up litter from 13,216 miles of roads and streets inside Washington County.

“It’s been a great program that has saved the county on cleanup costs,” the sheriff said.

Commissioner Jim Wheeler told his colleagues the results of the litter program speak for themselves.

“It’s amazing to see the benefits we get countywide,” Wheeler said.

In addition to picking up trash, inmates in the Community Service Division also assist non-profit organizations and help out with projects for the town of Jonesborough, city of Johnson City and the Washington County Solid Waste Department.

Among the projects they participated in 2018 included the Boone Lake cleanup, the county’s household hazardous waste collection and the Johnson City Press Christmas Box program.

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