Sheriff Mask

On hand for the state wide and district plaque awards for picking up the most bags of litter from the state highways in Pontotoc County are from left: Assistant MDOT Commissioner Patrick Tutor, Pontotoc County Sheriff Leo Mask, Northern District MDOT Commissioner John Caldwell, Sheriff’s Assistant Randy Roberts, and deputies who oversee the inmates picking up - Mike Russell, Ray Counce and Clyde Crowe.

Sheriff Leo Mask was handed two special awards last week. One was for collecting the most bags of trash in the Northern District in Mississippi from the road ways of Pontotoc County and the other was for picking up the most state wide.

He smiled broadly. “I knew we picked up a lot of bags last year. We pick up some 2,000 bags a month.”

Northern District MDOT Commissioner John Caldwell came to Sheriff Mask’s office to personally give him the awards. 

“You pick up as much in a month as some counties do in a year,” Caldwell said as he handed Mask the two plaques.

Crews of inmates pick up litter on the state maintained highway systems with a deputy to supervise the work. MDOT furnishes trash bags, safety vests, gloves and advisory signs.

MDOT partners with local counties to use inmate labor to remove litter from the state’s right-of-ways. MDOT assists in securing transportation mileage reimbursement, guard salary and when available, a vehicle. Keep Mississippi Beautiful purchases trailers for the sheriff’s departments for the faster removal of bagged litter. Pontotoc County is blessed to have all these tools to aid in the litter removal program. 

The inmates pick up the trash and leave it bagged on the side of the road and then later they come back with the trailer and remove them from the roadsides. In Mississippi 65 of the 82 counties participate in the program.

Commissioner Caldwell praised Sheriff Mask and his department for their diligence. “I know you put your guys in harms way sometimes when you do this because folks don’t slow down.”

Mask said what gets discouraging sometime is the fact that the litter problem is never ending. “We can pick up a road one morning and by the afternoon it is strewn with litter again,” he said.

He had high praise for the deputies that get out there and pick up day after day. “These guys go out in the blazing hot summer and the cold of winter to help keep the roads and highways litter free. They do a good job. If it weren’t for them the roadsides would be terribly clogged up with trash. I appreciate their dedication in working with the inmates to show them what it takes to keep the roadsides looking decent.”

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