Demolition Effort Halted

Less than two weeks after resuming work, an effort between the city of Meridian and Lauderdale County to tear down dilapidated houses has come to an unexpected halt.

"We had to stop tearing down the houses because we didn't have any men to do it and nobody to haul the debris away," says District 2 Supervisor Wayman Newell.

Because most of the workers in the county's road and bridge department are on vacation for the holidays, Newell says the satellite offices are primarily operating on skeletal crews.

'I didn't realize that all of the guys were going to take off, but I can understand that. This is the season to be jolly and family oriented and I can respect that.'

More than half of the houses on the most recent list are in Newell's district. Initially, he projected that all 84 structures would be torn down by the start of the new year. According to city officials, about 20 have been demolished so far.

'The problem is that people don't realize that you can knock down a house in 30 minutes to an hour at most, depending on the size. Then you load the trucks, but there's only one truck that can get into the landfill dump at a time. So, the other trucks are staggered, waiting to get into the landfill and then to get back to the site that's being torn down.'

The effort is part of an inter-local agreement between the city of Meridian and Lauderdale County. As part of it, the county provides the equipment and manpower and the city does the rest. The agreement was made 8 years ago. Since then, almost 300 condemned structures have been removed.

Newell expects work on the current list to resume next Wednesday, January 2nd.

'I'm going to say by January 30th I hope that we'll be through because we've got some other things that we need to catch up on, weather permitting and so forth.'

There are currently 250 structures in Meridian that are in various stages of the condemnation process. Some, or all of those, could be added to the next demolition list.