Extra garbage, trash keep crews busy

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2006

Garbage pickups may be a little later for the next few weeks assanitation workers struggle to account for the high volume ofholiday garbage.

“Typically, this week through February is a really busy time forus,” said Trevor Ash, Waste Management site manager for LincolnCounty and Brookhaven. “Every holiday is busy for us, but Christmasand New Year’s are the busiest.”

The high volume tends to lengthen route times, even with moremanpower delegated to each route and trucks on short routesdiverted to longer routes after they complete their tasks, hesaid.

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“We run a little later, sometimes into the night, and we have torun additional trucks,” Ash said. “You probably have an extra threeto four hours of running per route.”

However, Ash cautioned people against waiting to put out theirgarbage. He said the time of the delay is unpredictable.

“It’s really best if people continue in their normal routines,”he said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience. With the volume ofgarbage it just takes a bit longer.”

Ash estimated the volume of trash doubles during the holidayseason, even before the disposal of Christmas trees isconsidered.

Waste Management does not pick up discarded Christmas trees inLincoln County or Brookhaven, he said.

In the city, Mayor Bob Massengill said discarded trees will behandled like leaves, limbs and other trash during pickup by thecity’s trash crews.

“We’ll pick them up just as quickly as we can,” the mayorsaid.

Curtis Miller, a waste management sanitation worker, saidWednesday he had picked up a few discarded artificial Christmastrees, but he had not seen many real trees beside the road.

“Hopefully, people will burn them,” said Miller, suggesting acounty alternative for tree disposal.

Kevin Miller, Curtis’ father, added that a lot of people leavetheir trees up until after the first of the year.

“That’s when we begin to see a lot of them out here,” hesaid.

The Millers, the only local father-son sanitation team, said thedays get much longer this time of year.

“Some days are worse than others, but this time of year you earnevery penny,” Kevin Miller said. “It starts at Thanksgiving anddoesn’t let up until after New Year’s. Then tax time starts. You nosooner get done with this than that starts.”

Tax time, in the early part of the year, extends the busy periodbecause people tend to generate more large garbage by using theirrefunds to purchase furniture, appliances or other items, hesaid.

Furniture and appliances are not picked up by Waste Managementin Lincoln County or Brookhaven, however. City trash crews dohandle furniture and appliance pickup, but there could be an extracharge involved.

Public Works Director Steve Moreton and Sanitation DepartmentSuperintendent Willie Smith said there would be no added charge forone or two discarded items that can be handled in the normal courseof business. However, they said an excessive amount – such as apile generated from cleaning a house – would require an additionalcharge.

“The norm we’re going to get, but the excessive amount we’regoing to ask for an extra charge,” added Massengill.

Also, Smith said there would be an additional charge for trashpiles of limbs and leaves that have been co-mingled with garbageand have to be picked up by the city.

Like crews with Waste Management, Smith said city crews are intheir busy time of the year.

“As soon as the leaves start falling, that’s when we get realbusy,” he said.

Another factor extending route times during the holiday, Ashsaid, is that children are out of school.

“We have to tone it down a lot and be more cautious out there,”he said.

The Millers agreed.

Not only do the holidays generate more garbage by their verynature, Kevin Miller said, but children home from school add to thevolume.

“That alone increases it by probably 25 percent,” he said.

Also, employees should be able to enjoy the holidays as well,Ash said. Therefore, some days are rescheduled to give them the dayoff.

New Year’s Day Monday is such a day, he said.

Crews will run Monday’s county route Saturday, but will not runMonday’s city route. Ash said that would create twice the load whenthe city route is run on next Thursday.