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DHS begins job placement program: Lincoln County named work-ready community

Able-bodied adults who are not employed could find themselves helping the county pick up trash if they want to continue receiving Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits.
Elenore Monroe, with the Department of Human Services, spoke to the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors Monday about the state’s Job Placement Program. The program allows those who are able-bodied but not employed to continue receiving their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits. The requirement can be fulfilled by working just over 20 hours a month through the program.

The county will be able to take advantage of the program by using the workers to complete tasks, such as litter pick-up or county barn clean-up, around the county.

Questions were raised about liability, which would be with the worksite. Before deciding on specific jobs for the workers, supervisors will sort out how to ensure they are covered. However, each district was interested in having workers.

The group of people who are required to meet a work requirement to continue receiving SNAP benefits are those between 18 and 49 years old. Individuals can be exempt from the job placement program if they are employed for an average of at least 20 hours per week, have a dependent under the age of 18, are pregnant, or determined physically or mentally incapacitated.

Monroe said the county had about 600 able-bodied adults without dependents. Approximately 200 have taken the first steps to participate in the program. In her opinion, most of those who have entered the program seem to genuinely just be between jobs. The average job search takes six months.

County is certified work-ready community

Kenny Goza, of Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Work Placement Program, spoke to the supervisors and asked for their support in taking advantage of the work ready certification. The next step will be to create a skill assessment test, which will be given to those graduating and those who are currently unemployed. The information from those tests will be available for industries to use when searching for new location.

Ryan Holmes, Industrial Development Foundation president, said the information will be an important tool in the recruitment of new industries.

Goza added the test will also be available for existing businesses to use when deciding on re-structuring or promotions.

Litter

Homer Richardson, of Keep Lincoln County Beautiful, provided his annual report about litter in the county. After 15 years of progress on improving litter around the county, Lincoln County’s numbers rebounded in 2015 with the highest numbers since 2006.

The committee has 90 sites that they use to determine their number. The 90 are evenly distributed around the five supervisor districts and within the city limits. Half of the sites are checked one year, and the other half are checked the following year. No one knows where the sites are except the committee members. The sites are ranked between 1, for no litter, and 4, for severely littered.

In 2014, the county-wide number was just above 1. In 2015, the county-wide number was at 1.5. When the program began, the county-wide number was just above 2. District 3 had the highest number at around 2.8, and the city had the lowest with around 1.15.

Richardson said litter was up county-wide by 29 percent. All five districts and the city increased in litter. Some places saw as high as a 50 percent increase. The lowest was a 10 percent increase.

“This is the first thing people see when they come to Brookhaven — the roads,” Richardson said.

Ronnie Durr, Lincoln County Litter Control coordinator, has been out for four months due to medical reasons. He returned recently and plans to hit the ground running by putting new signs up. He also expressed hope that the new job placement program would be helpful in removing what is already out there.

“The key to it is it has no business being out there,” he said.

In other board business:

• The board approved a 16th section land lease agreement between Brookhaven School District and Natchez Railroad.

• Eddie Brown appointed Johnny Rushing to the District 4 position on the Natchez Railroad board. The position was previously held by Cliff Brumfield, who moved several years ago.

• Clifford Galey, Lincoln County Civil Defense director, warned the supervisors about the storms predicted for today. There could be damaging winds, hail and possible tornadoes from 12 to 9 p.m.

• The board approved a formalized agreement between Mississippi State and the county in regards to the Extension Service documenting what responsibilities each had. The agreement had little changes, but no document previously existed to outline the information. The one change had to do with the money the county was responsible in paying. The county pays a percentage of the Extension Service employee’s paychecks. Instead of the county writing the check directly, MSU will handle to paychecks and will bill the county.

• The board approved for March 28 through April1 to be Relay for Life Week and for April 1 to be Hope Day. The annual Lincoln County Relay for Life will be held April 1 at the Exchange Club.