If you've seen people picking up trash on Main Street or other areas around town this week, give them a honk, a wave and a smile.

They're taking part in a 12-week pilot program to help them earn some money and make the city look better in the process.

The program, Clean Start, is a partnership between the Gospel Rescue Mission and the city. 

Gospel Rescue Mission, the contractor, will be paid a weekly rate of $1,879.25 by the city, from which the Gospel Rescue Mission would deduct wages, worker's compensation, liability insurance, tools of the trade, transportation and other miscellaneous costs. Weather days will be deducted at a rate of $375.85 a day. 

"A lot of these men and women will work their hours in order to get their money to buy their boots or shoes and their uniforms for their next jobs," said Rich Schaus, executive director at the Gospel Rescue Mission. "So we not only serve the men and women at the Rescue Mission, we will also serve others in the community who also need a little bit of money for utilities and just to get by." 

Schaus said the abatement program could serve as a job training tool. He said the Gospel Rescue Mission plans to add a social enterprise component to its programs, and the abatement program "will give us some training opportunities for those men and women and for us to determine who the best workers are for our future projects."

We're hoping for good weather for those who are participating. Trash is a big problem in Muskogee, but the bigger need is helping local residents earn money to survive. They're willing to work and deserve the opportunity. We hope the program is successful.

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