The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will assume responsibility for cutting grass along the county’s roadways. This decision came as a result of the Quorum Court’s recent approval of an ordinance to permit the activity.
Without dissent, the county’s legislative body agreed to County Judge Booker Clemons signing a memorandum of understanding with the Sheriff’s Office to perform the work through Oct. 1 of this year, and from April 1 to Oct. 31 next year.
During the meeting, Sheriff Gerald Robinson said the work would be performed by members of the Clean Team — people who are working off fines from district court. They will work eight hours a day, five days a week, and the Sheriff’s Office will be paid $35 per hour for performing the work.
“Instead of paying $150,000 to get the grass cut, we’re going to use detainee labor and keep the money in the county,” Robinson said. He was referring to private contractors who were paid to cut grass, particularly in the areas across the Arkansas River in 2017.
Robinson said that in 2017, the county was paying $65 per hour for the work over a nine-month period and this year will be paying $35 per hour.
Asked by Justice of the Peace Dr. Herman Ginger where the equipment to cut the grass will come from, Robinson said the Sheriff’s Office already has lawn mowers and weed eaters and will also use some equipment belonging to the county Road Department, whose budget the payments will come from.
The Sheriff’s Office has been cutting the grass since June, a job previously held by the Road Department. According to a spokesperson, the Road Department no longer provides this service due to not having enough employees.