County update: Hazardous Waste Day set, modified this year

DeSoto County residents planning a fall cleanup of their residence and wanting to rid themselves of some paints and such can plan on getting some help from the county next month. 

Oct. 10 is the date set for the annual DeSoto County Household Hazardous Waste Day, from 8 a.m.-12 noon at the Landers Center in Southaven. 

However, County Environmental Services/Parks and Greenways Director Ray Laughter told Supervisors meeting Monday, Sept. 21 the annual event this year is being modified due to COVID-19 concerns.  

“We’re only going to take household chemicals this year,” Laughter said. “In the past, we have taken e-waste and tires, but this year, for everyone’s safety, including the people involved with it, we’re going to only take chemicals.”

The process of discarding the chemical waste is also this year going to be done differently, Laughter said. 

“We’re going to ask that people bring their chemicals, stay in their vehicle and let us do the unloading,” he said. 

Tires and e-waste typically taken at the Household Hazardous Waste Day are to go to the locations listed on the county website.  

“We know it’s an inconvenience to people, however we have had a lot of phone calls from people wanting to get rid of paints, chemicals, solvents, thinners, and things like that,” said Laughter. “We want to provide that service to people in a very, very safe way.”

Laughter added that everyone working will have on masks and workers will have COVID-19 testing done the day before to make sure everyone tests negative ahead of the event. 

MONEY AVAILABLE FOR MORE POLL WORKERS: Supervisors Monday accepted a move to receive an additional $9,000 from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office to be used to pay for more poll workers, if needed, on Election Day.

Election Commissioner Sissie Ferguson told supervisors that each precinct averages about nine poll workers for an election, but with the expected heavy demand to vote on Nov. 3, it’s likely more may be needed.  

“At some of our larger precincts we will have more than nine, but on an average, we probably won’t have that many,” Ferguson said. “For those that have more than nine, then we can be reimbursed for the additional poll workers that we have to hire.” 

The move is a “just in case” move, Ferguson said. 

“Right now, I think all of the districts have as many as we need,” she explained. “We’re always trying to bring in extra just in case someone does get sick or has to cancel for some reason. We’ve got a list of people that have applied at the Secretary of State’s office website.” 

ABSENTEE BALLOTING BEGINS: Monday, Sept. 21 began the period where the County Circuit Clerk’s office began accepting absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 general election. Information on the absentee voting process is available on the official county website

Mississippi does not have early voting for elections, however the state does allow for accepting absentee ballots if a valid reason is given why the voter is not able to be at the polls on Election Day. 

The fear of COVID-19 transmission at the polling place is not considered a valid reason for requesting an absentee ballot.  However, “a COVID-19 request to vote absentee will be included under a temporary physical disability and shall include any qualified voter who is under a physician-imposed quarantine to COVID-19; or is caring for a dependent who is under a physician-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19.”

Absentee ballots will be accepted at the DeSoto County Circuit Clerk’s office in the Hernando Courthouse during business hours. The office will also be open on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 8 a.m.-12 noon, and again on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., which is the deadline day for absentee voting.

An absentee ballot may also be requested by mail if the following circumstances apply: those who are over 65, those who are physically disabled, students who are away at school, or if voters will be outside of the county for the entire 45 days of absentee voting. For voters who request absentee ballots due to disability, both ballot and absentee application will have to be witnessed. Any and all other requests will require the voter’s signature to be notarized.

VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE NEARS: Voters are also reminded that Oct. 5 is the last day to register in person for the Nov. 3 general election. Mail in forms must have the Oct. 5 postmark to be accepted as a valid registration form.  

CENSUS DEADLINE NEARS: The end of September is the deadline to be counted for the 2020 U.S. Census and with just days for the count ends, Mississippi still lags behind in getting everyone accounted for.  

According to the Mississippi Census website, the state has had a self-response rate of 59.7 percent as of Monday, Sept. 21, which trails the national self-response of 66.1 percent and the 2010 Mississippi total self-response rate of 61.3 percent.  

U.S. Census Bureau did report Monday, however, that 95 percent of all American households have been counted in the census. The percentage includes both self-responsive and non-response follow up. Census takers nationally have counted 28.9 percent with the self-response figure of 66.1 percent added in.

DeSoto County has done a good job is self-reporting itself, as the county leads the state at 71.8 percent, but DeSoto County Community Resource Director Christie Barclay, in charge of promoting the census to county residents, told supervisors Monday there are still some areas where it’s been a slow process getting citizens to respond.  

“That’s in the Walls area and some pockets in Southaven,” Barclay said. “We’ve been working with the libraries putting census bookmarks into books when books are checked out reminding people to take the census. Field workers have been going out but the field worker response rate is only 30 percent of the people that have not responded.”

Barclay said the county has also worked with food pantries providing soap with a census message on that. The final week may also involve visiting libraries for in-person census taking. 

Hernando has had the best response rate thus far among DeSoto County communities at 74.6 percent, eighth-best among Mississippi cities. Olive Branch is 10th among state cities in answering the census call at 73.6 percent. 

The census count is important as it determines the amount of federal dollars and support communities, counties, and states may receive over the next 10 years. It also determines representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the numbers are also used to determine state, county and municipal districts.  

The Constitution mandates a census count be taken every 10 years.  

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