Lawrence County Solid Waste Department turning litter into jobs

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) –  Lawrence County is struggling and in a mess after losing a major employer, International Paper. But one county department is trying to make things nicer — and create good-paying jobs in the process.

It’s Willie Allen’s bread and butter in Lawrence County — cleaning up other people’s trash.

“People just throwing em out of cars.  Last year alone we picked up over 100 tons,” said Allen.

He’s the head of the county’s solid waste department and says the litter along county roads is out of control.

“Back a couple of months ago we found 70 tires in one location,” said Allen.

So, he’s trying something new to get it cleaned up and getting great feedback.

“Everybody’s involved from the communities, wanting their community cleaned up,” Allen said with a smile.

He’s currently accepting applications for four new full-time positions as solid waste laborers. They’ll earn nearly $10 per hour, working 40 hours a week, picking up litter.

“Four days a week, we start at 5:00 in the morning,” Allen clarified.

The new workers will go all over the county, except for in the city of Moulton, picking up what sanitation crews can’t get to. Allen says his department is debt-free and he’s using money ear-marked for sanitation needs. He says since 2013, his department has created 12 new jobs and he has more than 50 applicants for these new positions.

“What does that say to you?” asked WHNT NEWS 19’s Beth Jett.

“People’s wanting jobs and I’m glad that the solid waste department is able to create that job,” Allen replied.

The department had been using inmate labor, but it was too inconsistent due to court appearances. Allen also says he’s working on acquiring new equipment to help the new laborers with their new jobs.

If you’re interested in applying for a position, call the department at 256-974-2573.