The Pothole Patchman has roamed the streets of Jackson for weeks, filling in the crater-heavy roads with buckets of city asphalt and his own sweat.
The do-gooder has been content to patch up some of the worst holes in Belhaven and Fondren. And while he's not afraid to say who he is, the Patchman said it's never been about him but about the city seeing the extent of the problem it has with its roads.
Meet Ron Chane, owner of Studio Chane Screenprinting in Fondren. By day, he creates custom-ordered shirts, including ones highlighting pothole problems. But, on the occasional night, he's a rogue road worker.
In the past he has referred to himself as the Robin Hood of potholes.
The asphalt comes from what Chane calls Mount St. Asphalt, a large mound of road-building material found near the southern end of State Street.
Armed with a dozen buckets, the crusader takes what he needs and goes out to repair the potholes he encounters. So far, he's done this about five times, but it's been enough for him to become noticed as the Pothole Man, Chane said.
Once he's filled in the holes, Chane marks his repairs "Citizen Fixed" with spray paint.
"I'm probably stealing from the city, but there's not a sign saying 'Don't take this and put it in potholes,' " said Chane. "So I'm putting (the asphalt) back where it belongs."
Chane said he could understand problems if he took the asphalt home or sold it. "But in this case, I'm putting it where it belongs," he added.
"Some people say I could be arrested," said Chane.
Jackson officials were made aware of Chane's pothole ploys on Monday morning, said Latrice Westbrook, interim city spokeswoman.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said in a news release later that day that he is evaluating the city's infrastructure.
"We applaud anyone who commits to making reasonable improvements within their communities, but we do not accept any use of the city's resources without going through the proper legal channels," he said in the release. The mayor did not directly address Chane's repair of potholes.
Lumumba "wants to assure the citizens that he is anxious to address the concerns that plague our streets and neighborhoods," it said.
Chane said he hopes the city sees his work as something positive to fix a longstanding problem.
"It's about getting the city to finally say, 'We're going to take some money from other budgets and fix the infrastructure. Let's have a nice-looking place.' "
The state of the streets was noted by Lumumba during his inauguration July 1.
"People have been complaining about the roads, and that it's kind of tough to drive on some of our roads sometimes," said Lumumba. "But the reality is I was walking on the road, and it was kind of tough to walk on it."
Meanwhile, many residents celebrated Chane's efforts.
"I think that kind of thing is fabulous," said Virgi Lindsay, executive director of the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation. "I would like to say 'thank you very much,' to this citizen.
"The city cannot do everything," Lindsay added. "The government can't take care of everyone, so I applaud any citizen for stepping up to fix the problem."
Chane said his idea was born during a drive to Denny's in late May when he was jarred repeatedly by potholes. "We were behind a little hippie van with a bumper sticker that said, 'Quit your (fussing) and do something about it.' "
So Chane, with the help of his girlfriend, went to work. "I thought I could just make one less pothole to deal with."
However he started setting goals: first to fill a few more, then to fill 50. Now it's a goal of 100.
"Hopefully someone else will come behind me," said Chane. "I don't want to do the city's work forever."
Fixing the potholes is simple, said Chane, adding that it takes around an hour for him to leave him home, pick up the rocks at Mount St. Asphalt and get to work plugging the streets.
He puts in more asphalt - or overloads - the potholes to adjust for the portions of material moved by cars or rain.
As for the worst pot-marked road with moon-sized craters, Chane said it's a tossup between State, Mill, Fortification streets and Riverside Drive.
The city's infrastructure should be a top priority for everyone, he added. It's not just about keeping the capital city nice, it's also for practical reasons.
"I put about $900 into the front end of my SUV because it hit so many potholes," said Chane. "I need to fix potholes or quit what I'm doing and open a front-end alignment shop."
Dustin Barnes, The Clarion-Ledger