Approximately two weeks after the City of Crossett started training its sanitation employees on the use of the new one-person garbage truck system, the time for residents to adapt their garbage pickup routines to the new system is approaching
“It’s going really good. Some things are to be expected—a few issues, but nothing that we’re not getting worked out,” Public Works Director Jeff Harrison said.
The truck, which has a robotic arm for picking up garbage cans, arrived in April and the sanitation department has been training with it. That training period is nearing an end.
Harrison said now that his staff is prepared for the truck to go live, the only thing left to do is to continue to educate the public about what to do with their garbage cans. The cans must be the bespoke containers the city ordered for each residence in order to work with the truck.
“We still have to get people to get their can in the right place, and to keep obstructions from around the can,” said Harrison.
“We’ve seen residences where they are piling stuff around the can, and some where the can is not accessible because of where the resident put it.”
For example, one resident’s can was situated in between two metal yard decorations. While that placement may be aesthetically pleasing, it is not practical or conducive to the trash removal process.
The “fingers” on the arm of the truck need space to open and close around the can so it can lift and dump it properly.
If anything is on or right next to the sides of the can when the truck comes by for pickup, it will not be able to wrap its “fingers” around to grasp the can if something is in the way.
Harrison said that some people are putting items in the cans that do not belong, such as building materials, broken fishing poles, and other objects.
“The garbage cans are for bagged household garbage only,” Harrison said.
“What we’re doing right now, for the rest of this week and next week, is there is a truck going ahead of the workers in the new truck to ensure the cans are in the correct place and facing the right direction when the one-armed truck passes by to pick up the trash,” he said.
“When we go live with this, that truck will not be able to pick it up and it will be passed up until the next trip, which would be on the next regular trash pick up day.”
To get the word out about the trash can guidelines, Harrison said the city had some hang tags made for the trash cans themselves, and he and Mayor Crystal Marshall have gone on the radio and shared information in the papers as well.
Harrison said the city has a pretty informative post on its Facebook page, and that he and the mayor will be going door-to-door to share the information with residents who might not yet be aware.
“We have gone to pretty specific lengths to get the word out,” Harrison said.
The only way left to share the news is by word of mouth, so for all those individuals that would like to help their neighbors become more informed, Harrison offered several guidelines:
•The cans are to be used for household garbage only.
•Bring the can to the curb each trash day, with the handle pointing towards the residence. Markers on the can indicate which side should face out toward the street and which side should face the house.
•Once the can is emptied, close the lid and pull it away from the street. Each can holds 96 gallons total. If rain were to fill the can up, it would weigh over 850 pounds.
Not even the one-armed trash truck will lift the can at that point, so be sure to close the lid after trash is placed your trash inside and when it is empty.
•Trash that is placed next to the can will no longer be picked up by the city once the trash truck goes live.
•Those who cannot fit their trash into just one can every week can purchase additional trash cans from the city at a one-time cost of $85.
Harrison and the rest of the streets and sanitation team knows that it will take some getting used to, but once the truck is fully operating as it is intended, the labor that would have been used during the trash removal process can be spent somewhere else around the city, wherever there is a need.
Harrison said that his department is “going to have a basis of about four people, to cover the shifts, but primarily two individuals will drive the truck 95 percent of the time.”
As part of the marketing effort to educate the public about the changes, on Wednesday, April 26, Marshall and Harrison gave the children at the Crossett Learning Center a special demonstration of how the new trash truck works.
City employees Lester Tucker, Lavon Ivory, Ollie Jones, and Vicky Wimberly were on hand for the truck’s demonstration as well.
On the day of the demonstration, the CLC students and staff lined up behind the school where the trash truck was parked.
As the children emerged from the building they saw the truck and most were excited just to see it sitting there.
Marshall and Harrison explained to the children that they were there so they could show them how the new truck works. Harrison also gave the students a few facts about the cans and the truck.
Once the truck went into action, the children let out squeals of delight and surprise. Some laughed, and others covered their wide-open mouths with both of their hands, as if they could not believe what they had just seen.
Others stuck both their arms out, imitating what they had seen the truck doing just before.
Harrison lifted one of the children up toward the cab of the truck, at which point Tucker, who has worked with the city for 30 years, brought the child up into the cab the rest of the way.
Tucker had the honor of showing the student how to honk the truck’s horn — which she did — much to the delight of the other children.
The students at Crossett Elementary School will get their turn to see the trash truck, too. The CES demonstration of the truck’s capabilities will take place on Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m.
The City of Crossett is also trying to determine a name for the new truck, and the community is invited to offer up their own suggestions.
Visit the city’s social media page for more information on the trash removal guidelines or to submit a name idea.
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