KINGWOOD — Preston County Litter Officer Jay Sowers finds help cleaning up the county where he can.
He’s requested help through the Preston Probation Office and he’s had offers from a range of county residents.
He recently appeared before the county Solid Waste Authority explaining his need for a female county employee to be available for help sometimes.
“Probation gave me three people, all females who have to do 20 hours of community service a week until they find work,” Sowers said. “Nothing against women, but I’d rather not have them (the three females from probation) with all this touchy-feely stuff. The sheriff’s department hired a female utility officer. She can take them out in the van to do clean up.”
Chrystal Thomas, chief of the 18th Judicial Circuit Probation Office, said she didn’t realize it mattered if the help from her office came from men or women. She said Sowers asked for some help and she provided those who needed to complete community service hours.
She said she doesn’t think ‘this is a male and this a female’ when she is sending out persons on probation to work.
“To my knowledge there has been no problem with female and male probationers working together, or female and employee problems,” Thomas said. “Sometimes they pick up litter on their own and leave the bags to be picked up when they finish.”
Other county officials see things similar to Sowers.
Don Smith, who represents the Preston County Commission on the SWA, said he thought Sowers made the comment thinking him being with a female alone in his truck would be taken the wrong way by some people.
“We would prefer one of our female employees be with him when he is with females sent from probation,” Chief Deputy P.A. Pritt said. “We don’t want any allegations. We want to protect our employees and the county.”
Sowers said he has received phone calls from people wanting to volunteer. He said several 50- to 80-year-old Tunnelton residents recently cleaned up litter from Tunnelton to Campground.