A severe shortage of workers in the Solid Waste industry has caused Public Works & Utilities departments nationwide to resort to drastic measures to account for the collection of garbage, recycling and yard waste. Here in Bradenton, while we continue to pick up garbage every week, we have temporarily shifted the collection of yard waste and recycling to alternate weeks.

That every-other-week plan has affected our pickup of yard waste the most. Those bunches of leaves, grass, and tree branches pile up quickly, and once a truck is full to brimming, it has to be emptied before it can hold more.

The real issue, though – drivers. The City has increased pay for CDL drivers and is currently offering a sign-on bonus and retention incentives. The more immediate issue – picking up your yard waste.

Twice now, and maybe a third time upcoming, Public Works & Utilities employees have volunteered to work on Saturday to help the City catch up with yard waste collection. These are not just employees from the Solid Waste Division. Some of them are from Landscape & Grounds, Electrical, and Water Treatment divisions.

These Saturday efforts are to the tune of $10,369.60 in overtime pay so far to help the City get more caught up where yard waste is concerned. Mayor Gene and Gina Brown, and Jim McLellan, Director of Public Works & Utilities, have been among the Saturday crews. At a recent City Council meeting, the Mayor read the names of all the Saturday workers because he wanted them to get their proper due. That’s why we’re doing it here, too:

First of all, four people – Craig Keys (Public Works); Gabriel Hornes (Streets); Mike Armato (Water Distribution); and Roberto Ramirez (Drainage) – have worked both Saturdays. Others who gave up a Saturday to help out were: Bert Lawton, Brian Cho, Calvert White, Corbett Matthews, Garrett Falcon, Jason McNeil, Juan Colon, Lamont Stuckey, Wes Silenceux, Ollie Anderson, Stanley King, and Pierce Johnson, all of the Solid Waste Division; Jatazious Wright, Kelvet Fuller, Lester Johnson, Scott Marciano, Todd O’Donnell, and Billy Jones of the Landscape & Grounds Division; Marco Edmond and Jude Placide of Streets; Jesse Gonzalez and Sunil Ditta of Electrical; Lavanus Bowen of Fleet; Phillip Campbell of Water Distribution; Quinton Jamison of Sewer; John Simmons of Drainage; and James Eberstein of Water Treatment.

Using nine rear-load garbage trucks, four boom grapple trucks, a pickup truck/trailer combo, and CDL drivers from other divisions, Saturday workers collected a combined 136 tons on the two days; a usual weekday solid waste run is approximately 15-20 tons.

Well done!

These employees deserve more than a little extra pay and a pat on the back, and our thanks is truly genuine. Director McLellan, whose respect and appreciation for his employees is already noteworthy, had this to say about the Saturday efforts: “I could not be prouder of our staff. Knowing that our Solid Waste team is dealing with an unprecedented problem, these folks volunteered to give up part of their weekends to help Solid Waste meet the needs of our City. No better definition of a team.”

Manatee Herald