DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond: Bye’ bye’ blight

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DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond plans to roll up his sleeves and help clean up DeKalb. Literally. Thurmond will kick off the Operation Clean Sweep blight reduction initiative on Saturday, March 11, 8 a.m., at Wade Walker Park, 5585 Rockbridge Road, Stone Mountain.

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved the county’s 2017 operating budget of $1.3 billion, which funds Thurmond’s top priorities of addressing the county’s water billing crisis, employment and blight.

The board approved $2.6 million for Operation Clean Sweep, a year-round initiative to target blight, litter, illegal dumping and cleaning up debris in county storm drains, streets, sidewalks and rights-of-way. As part of the $2.6 million approved, the county plans to buy four street sweepers, a front loader, dump truck, trailer and other equipment.

“Anyone who lives, works or who visits here should be able to walk and drive along the streets of DeKalb County free without encountering excessive litter and debris,” Thurmond said.

“Residential blight did not appear overnight and will not be easily remediated, but I am convinced that a more focused, multi-departmental blight remediation strategy, in cooperation with civic groups, faith leaders and the private sector, will result in improved quality of life for us all,” CEO Thurmond said.

During the kickoff event along Stone Mountain-Lithonia Road at Rockbridge Road, Thurmond will join county crews from Sanitation, Beautification, Roads and Drainage and Parks and Recreation as they perform litter and debris removal along streets curbs and storm drains, mowing and street sweeping.

To address DeKalb’s high water bill crisis, commissioners approved Thurmond’s request for $1.5 million.

“During the next 90 days, the administration will implement strategies that will reduce errors associated with maintaining our meter inventory,” Thurmond said. “We will improve efficiencies in meter installation and data management billing. Greater emphasis and investments will be made in customer service training and employee retention.”

Another initiative of Thurmond that received funding is the DeKalb Works Summer Employment Strategy. Under the $250,000 program administered by WorkSource DeKalb, 155 eligible youths between the ages of 14 and 24 will have the opportunity to earn wages and develop employment skills. The youths will be placed with private and public employers for six weeks in a work-based training environment.

“I believe this subsidized employment opportunity will provide our young people with resources to buy basic needs such as food, clothes and school supplies,” CEO Thurmond said. “A job often means much more than a paycheck. It can also mean connection with a lifelong mentor, career path exploration, practical training and the development of soft skills.”

A schedule of Operation Clean Sweep efforts will be posted on DeKalb’s website at

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