The headline in the Weekend Missourian said: “Storm Didn’t Stop City Trash Crews.” The mail may not have been delivered the day after the snowstorm that hit Washington Sunday, Jan. 5, but the city’s refuse and recycling crews didn’t miss a pickup Jan. 6, or during the rest of the week.
Working on one of the crews is not the most attractive job in the community. The shaggers who work off the packer trucks have an especially tough job even in nice weather. They performed beyond what was expected because of the snow and ice on some streets and along the gutters. On top of that, it was cold, around zero, when they started their rounds and never got above the teens.
Pickups were slightly behind schedule but the routes were covered. City Administrator Jim Briggs has been with the city 37 years and he said crews missed picking up trash only once in all those years. That was when the city was hit by another massive snowstorm in the early 1980s.
Because of the excellent service the city provides, thoughts went back to the era when the city decided to operate its own refuse and garbage collection service. The city was unhappy with the service by a private firm and made the bold move to make it a municipal service. There was skepticism. Could the city provide the service at a reasonable cost to citizens? Mayor Dick Hirschl and the city council made a study of the service and used a consulting engineer, Ray Frankenberg, Sr., to set up the program. Equipment was purchased and personnel were hired. The service began in the late 1960s without a major problem. It has continued to this day with excellent service.
The city and its citizens can be proud of this service. The cost to residents is cheaper than for those property owners who live outside the city.
Municipal governments often are criticized for their services and the cost to residents. The refuse collection and recycling program are examples of a municipal program that excels. The Washington service is a model for other communities to follow. Congratulations to all the city personnel involved in the program.