A state clean-up program and city employees joined forces to help clean a pair of lots in Pratt.

It's a new beginning for a family in Pratt as the lot where they live has been cleaned of debris that has overwhelmed the lot for years.

Pratt City workers spent several days cleaning two lots at 803 South Iuka and hauling tons of metal, tree limbs and a wide variety of other material off the property that had been covered for years.

The city received help from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for the project. Local authorities contacted the Bureau of Waste Management about getting the property cleaned up, said Bob Medina, Illegal Dump Clean-up Program Coordinator for the KDHE.

Working with the City Inspector Brad Blankenship, the clean-up was organized and city employees went to work spending three and a half days clearing the lots.

Medina worked with the family and received permission to go onto the property and to effect a clean-up using city workers.

Workers cleared the outside area around two houses. They salvaged metal that was recycled and that value will be used to help reduce the cost of the cleanup. Funds from the clean-up program will cover the balance of the cost to the city.

They trimmed trees plus removed a wide variety of items from the property. There were some old vehicles on the property that were salvaged for restoration. Some oil containers were found on the property and will be disposed of at the Household Hazardous Waste facility at the recycle center.

To qualify for KDHE help with the project, Medina travels to the site to determine if it qualifies for assistance. Medina acts as a go-between for the property owner and the local government to establish a positive relationship between the two.

Medina said he would much rather establish a good relationship with the property owner and have them agree to a clean-up than to have to do it by enforcement.

"My number one concern is the residents," Medina said.

Medina explained how the program works to the property owners and they agreed to sign a consent form to allow the cleanup and a form to allow city crews to go onto the property. Medina declined to identify the family to help maintain the relationship he had established with them.

Funding for the clean-up program comes from a $1 tipping fee for every ton dumped at landfills.

Medina is the sole coordinator for the program for the entire state and travels extensively to help organize clean-up operations similar to the one in Pratt as well as illegal dumping sites.

The Illegal Dump Clean-up Program was started in 2002. The program has helped clean up some 1,100 sites, including cooperation sites like the one in Pratt and enforcement sites across Kansas in the past 15 years.