Meridian, Miss. In a crusade to clean up the Queen City, city council members and a handful of volunteers set out to 35th Avenue and 17th Street to begin clearing off and cleaning up vacant lots.
Ward 5 councilman Randy Hammon spearheaded the operation, accompanied by Kim Houston and Dustin Markham. Hammon said that in just this past quarter, an additional 300 plus properties have been vacated, and this is a growing problem.
"Most of these are city lots right now, so that's what we are doing," Hammon says. "I don't know if we can do owner lots, but we're doing the city lots. Last quarter Will, we had an additional 160 abandoned homes and 379 more lots, so this city's in real need of a clean up."
Hammon says the city finally received the funds in the budget for community development and that those funds can go a lot further if city leaders can have citizen volunteers help with the easier lots, so the funds can be put to work and the much tougher lots.
"This is the citizen’s part now," Hammon stresses. "We as a council, Dustin, Kim and I, we've been asking for more funds in community development and public works and we put more in this time, this time around. Both departments got more funds to do this kind of thing. But we thought that if we helped, and did some of the ones that are doable by us as citizens, that leaves the harder ones for the city, and maybe we can catch up.
Though volunteers won't be able fix everything this weekend, Hammon says its a step in the right direction.
"We are just starting," Hammon insists. "If we need to set up another date a couple Saturdays from now, we will knock out a couple more. But here's the thing, we got to start somewhere."
If you would like to help, you can contact the Clerk of Council on the third floor on Meridian City Hall during business hours.