Rolling up their sleeves with a purpose

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The government and the court system may have landed on an idea that works for both entities: Getting those on probation for convictions to keep the county’s highways clear of debris.

The program is called the Assign-A-Highway program, according to Sheriff Vernie Francis Jr., and it’s already showing signs of success after a few short months.

Under the court-ordered terms of their probation, more than 45 people convicted of various crimes in Southampton’s Circuit Court patrol 92 miles of county highways every two weeks, collecting and bagging the trash they find along the way. More than 500 bags of garbage have been removed since the program began in July.

For the county, the program offers a low-cost method of litter control. For the courts, it gets those who have something to learn a chance to contribute in a positive way.

For the convicted, it could hasten their release from probation.

Deputy John Griggs is in charge of the program. He takes care of safety training; coordinates the work through the court, probation officers and the Virginia Department of Transportation; and monitors the assigned roadways to make sure the areas are being kept clean.

“I think it’s a great thing for the county,” he told the county supervisors recently. “It can make the county cleaner and safer.”

We certainly agree.