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Altus struggling with tall grass after losing DOC inmates

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

ALTUS, OK (KSWO) -The City of Altus is struggling to get the grass cut across the city after losing the DOC inmates who were once housed in their county jail.  

The inmates often carried out various jobs across the city, which included mowing. The labor was free and helped free up city man power. After the Oklahoma Department of Corrections closed 15 work centers across the state, including one in Altus, the city hasn't been able to keep up with their work list and some residents are fed up.

Billy Azlin, an Altus resident, says he knows the city is down in workers, but says something has to be done. He says the grass is so overgrown in some areas near his home, he's been forced to cut it himself.

"They want to beautify the city of Altus, but yet they let this side go," Azlin said.

Azlin says he's tired of waiting to hear the sound of mowers come through the area to do the work he shouldn't have to do.

"Mow them...get them done and keep it up," he said.

Inmates used to do all the work and more all over the city, but the Altus Mayor Jack Smiley says the city mowers are out there working, they're just slightly behind and not able to do as much weed eating and edging because of lack of man power.

"The City can't just decide we need more and more workers and just go hire however many we want. That's not the way the budget works," Mayor Smiley said.

Mayor Smiley says it will be some time until residents see a change. He says they won't be able to hire part-time workers until next year like they used to before they started enlisting the help of DOC workers. He asks that residents be patient until then.

"The City would hire high school kids to help with weed eating and mowing until mid-summer when the grass started to die off, but in the spring we would hire these part-time workers and that's probably what we'll have to go back to doing," Mayor Smiley said.

Mayor Smiley also says the DOC work center closing in Altus has not only placed a toll on their mowing system, but the county, state and non-profit organizations such as Meals on Wheels.

Grandfield and Walters said they're having similar issues after losing the inmate work centers.

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