Keeping the streets clear and trash picked up

Published 3:02 pm Friday, January 19, 2024

BY IVAN SANDERS
CITY OF ELIZABETHTON PIO
There is nothing that makes a school-aged child, or even a teacher, more excited than seeing the sky dropping millions of little flakes of frozen ice that is more commonly referred to as snow as thoughts of sledding, building snowmen, snowball fights, and more importantly being out of school flood their minds.
While the fresh snow reminds one of purity and is beautiful covering the landscape, there is another group of individuals who know it will be on their shoulders to make sure that motorists who have to be on the roads will be as safe as possible while they navigate the wet slush and ice.
The City of Elizabethton Street and Sanitation Department is one such group that has dedicated itself to long hours during snow events to salt roads and scrape roads as needed to make travel safer.
“Our first time to be called in was on Martin Luther King Day at 9 a.m. and a crew of seven came in at that time working up to 2 p.m. and when 2 p.m. came, we were still having trouble getting it off the road and needed to put more trucks out,” said Director of Street and Sanitation Danny Hilbert.
“Five more people were called in at 2 p.m. and they worked until 11 p.m. that night. We put down 138 tons of salt during that snow event. On Tuesday morning, we came in, and everything was in fairly good shape, but in a little while, we received reports of black ice from some of our drivers, so we had to call all the garbage trucks back in and put those same drivers back into salt trucks.”
Hilbert said that 47 more tons of salt were spread to combat the ice.
Just a couple of days later, Hilbert and crew were facing the call for another snow and ice event on Thursday evening. After watching weather reports, the entire crew was called in at 8 p.m. on Thursday even though it wasn’t doing anything at the time, with Jamie Tolley and Hilbert staying in close contact throughout the evening.
Tolley said that when the snow finally started to fall around 11 pm in Elizabethton crews took to the roads at midnight.
“It wasn’t really that heavy of a snow event, but it seemed like once we got one street clear, about an hour or so, we would have to go back over it and clear it again,” said Tolley.
The crews worked until 7 a.m. on Friday morning, clearing the roads and making them passable.
Some of the same men who drive salt trucks also drive garbage trucks, and those employees then took the garbage trucks out to collect two days’ worth of garbage since Monday was a city holiday.
If the garbage truck drivers encountered slick spots, a salt truck would come out and spread salt to make the road passable for the large rear-loading garbage trucks.
Even though the trash pickup was going to be a little late on Friday, all stops were being picked up save one steep area near Quail Hollow. Hilbert contacted the HOA of Quail Hollow to inform them of the issue with the ice not allowing the truck to make it down the hill.
“We have not missed anything on garbage,” said Hilbert. “We may have taken a little bit longer but we have done what we always have done in regards to pickups.”
Hilbert was like a proud papa when he began talking about his employees.
“I am so proud of every one of these guys,” said Hilbert. “They put in a lot of hours here today after coming in at 8 pm last night and they are still here today making sure the garbage is picked up and that is something that we have to do because it could turn into a big problem. All of our commercial front loaders have not missed a can today either.
“My hat is off to all these guys who have come in to clear the roads and keep them clear – it’s all on them. I am only as good as they are. That is the way I think. I can say they all go above and beyond to get the job done.”
A total of 320.5 tons of salt was used over the course of the two snow events out of 1000 tons that were on hand, with more to be ordered for possible future snow and ice events.

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