State officials have approved a local burn site for debris resulting from the recent winter storm that affected many areas of Saline County.
The site is located behind the county airport off Reynolds Road.
Benton Mayor David Mattingly and County Judge Lanny Fite met to formulate plans for operation of the site.
Mattingly noted that signs will be posted to indicate the location.
The site will be open to the public Monday through Saturday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saline County employees will man the facility.
Residents who have the ability to clean up and haul debris from their property are welcome to take it directly to the burn site during the hours of operation, Mattingly said.
"Others who do not have the means to haul to the site are encouraged to begin bringing debris curbside to facilitate pickup and removal," he said. "Unfortunately, city and county employees cannot go onto private property to assist in the cutting and removal of debris."
Mattingly said as many employees as possible are being reassigned to facilitate the massive cleanup problem.
He encouraged residents to be patient with the process. "It will take several weeks to get this accomplished," he added.
Benton residents may report debris to be picked up at curbside by calling the Benton Street Department at 776-5990 or City Hall at 776-5900.
"If your debris is located in the utility right of way, you should contact Benton Public Utilities at 776-5930 for directions on how to proceed," he added.
Anyone who has suffered damage to a residence or other personal property is advised to contact the Saline County Office of Emergency Management at 303-5649 to report the nature of the damage.
Fite said this morning that he and other officials are scheduled to meet Saturday with representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine possible assistance that can be made available to the county.
"As soon as we meet with FEMA tomorrow and learn whether they will help, we will begin picking up in the county right away," he said.
"We'll be making two passes — one in a couple of weeks, then a second one," he said. "We will be giving all the times once we determine how much help we'll get from the federal government."
The judge predicted that the cleanup process will take two to three months to complete. "It depends on how much help we receive on how quickly we can complete this. But even if we receive no help from FEMA, we'll get 35 percent from the state, since the governor has declared us a disaster area and it qualifies us for that funding."
He noted that the county has funds kept in reserve for disasters like the recent storm. "It shouldn't be a hardship, but it may delay some projects we had planned for 2013," he noted.
"This (cleanup) will come first," he added.