MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Long lines stretched out before sunrise as hundreds cashed in on a new program to do away with blight in Shelby County.
Tires were piled in front, back, high and low as the city and county’s Tire Redemption Program brought out hundreds of people, hauling thousands of old tires.
The line to recycle tires at Refurban on Florida Street stretched at least a mile.
“There is plenty of blight,” said Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht. “There is poverty. There’s a great opportunity today to make some money cleaning up our city.”
With $50,000 set aside, participants were required to bring a valid Tennessee driver’s license or I.D. and could make as much as $250.
The program was restricted to residents only.
However, many participants were disappointed to learn they wouldn’t get paid right away.
“It’ll be like two weeks up to a month, and I got up out the bed thinking we would get cash today because I have a family to feed,” said Rodney Jefferson. “I borrowed money from folks to do what I’ve got to do.”
“I feel like that could've found a way to cut that they could've cut a check today to help people out, because it's a lot of people in line including me need that cash today,” said Stanley Evans.
Although the goal of the project is to fight blight in the community, many people that in line said it's about making an honest dollar any way they can.
Officials said when the money is gone, they want residents to consider their options.
The city’s Solid Waste Department will dispose of as many as four tires up to 22 inches in size per address, per week.
“The bottom line is we’re going to prosecute anyone that we catch illegally dumping,” said Al Lamar, Director of Solid Waste.
City officials said 20,687 tires were collected Wednesday.
The tire redemption program runs through Thursday or until the funds run out.