Streets in DeKalb County may be a little cleaner after a recent cleanup effort by county officials. In the first Saturday of the county’s Operation Clean Sweep, 50 tons of debris were removed from a 12-mile stretch of south Stone Mountain and Lithonia on Panola and Redan roads by county crews.
On March 11, crews from sanitation, beautification, roads and drainage and parks and recreation removed litter and debris along street curbs and storm drains, performed street sweeping on sidewalks and mowed the area.
The initiative will be year-round and improve the livability and cleanliness of the county by targeting litter and debris in storm drains, streets, sidewalks and rights-of-way, said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.
“Anyone who lives, works or who visits here should be able to walk and drive along the streets of DeKalb County without encountering excessive litter and debris,” said Thurmond in a statement.
Blight in DeKalb County has been a longstanding issue. Marcus Kellum, director of beautification, said Operation Clean Sweep helps bring together different DeKalb departments to focus on a common goal.
“We’ve received some very positive community responses and while we were out there people were clapping and saying ‘thank you’ for cleaning the streets,” Kellum said. “This is the new face of DeKalb and our focus is to deliver a product and service that the residents can be proud of.”
The initiative is one of several amendments added to the CEO’s 2017 budget. The funds for the $2.6 million project were already available for the operation and were reallocated, a county official said.
Kellum said the departments are using a phased approach to handle debris in DeKalb. He said the plan put forth by the administration should be successful.
“We knew [debris] was an issue and this is a start. This is an effort that will continue and the initiative adds that extra effort on Saturdays. This adds that level of detail to make sure the streets are clean,” Kellum said.
During the budget meeting, Thurmond told commissioners it was important the amendment be approved so road crews could get to work.
”I want to thank the staff for putting [Operation Clean Sweep] together. It was a great outcome and outpour of concerned citizens trying to keep DeKalb beautiful,” Commissioner Greg Adams said.
During the operation kickoff event, Thurmond recognized DeKalb County resident Cynthia Houston as the inspiration behind Operation Clean Sweep.
“Long before I ever thought about being CEO, I noticed Houston always out on the side of the road, picking up trash, no matter the weather,” said Thurmond during the event. “We’re kicking off Operation Clean Sweep today in her honor.”
On March 18, the operation clean sweep crew traveled north on Panola Road from Snapfinger Road to Salem Road. The clean sweep crew plans to continue work each Saturday through August to clear grass, trash and debris.
According to the county, once the initial clearing of roadways is complete, street sweepers will service and maintain all 2,000 miles of DeKalb roadway and 4,000 miles of curbs four times a year.
“You have to have respect for where you live and your environment,” said Houston. “If you don’t, then nobody else will.”
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