Working Together to beautify Kansas City
You won’t see it painted across the streets or sidewalks, but Andre Bell and Bobby Hill can tell you about the line they see every day in their jobs with the City’s Solid Waste Services. The line they talk about is the one between communities with strong neighborhood associations and those without.
“You can tell the communities that work together to keep things clean, because they stay on it,” says Hill, an equipment operator. Otherwise, trash builds up as weedy lots and vacant houses attract illegal dumpers.
Hill and Bell, a maintenance worker/driver, were among the crew who took part in a Safe School Zone cleanup around Vineyard Resource Center on June 22. They hauled away more than 8 tons of trash and 2 tons of yard waste after neighborhood volunteers collected litter and smaller items.
“We picked up beds, box springs, entertainment centers, sofas and old tires,” Bell says. “It was everything you could think of from a house,” Hill added, “including the kitchen sink.”
The Vineyard event was one of several “clean sweeps” the City organized to help targeted neighborhoods last summer in addition to the normal weekday runs, when each Solid Waste truck usually collects 35,000 pounds or more of trash along a single route. A typical day starts when the men (and a few women, too) clock in at 6:30 a.m. at the Municipal Service Center in the East Bottoms. They check with the supervisor to find out their route, their truck and who they’re working with. Then they head out to all areas of the City, often skipping lunch. “Once you get a rhythm going, you don’t want to stop,” Hill said.
They wish residents would pay more attention to the 40-pound weight limit for one trash bag. “If you have to drag it to the curb, it’s probably over the limit,” Bell said. And they appreciate those who follow recycling rules by not throwing Styrofoam and glass bottles into the blue and black bins, as well as courteous drivers who keep a safe distance from the back of trucks where workers are riding.
The best part of the job is at the maintenance building when the day winds down. “Most people don’t realize how much fun we have,” Bell says. “It’s loud and noisy and we’re always joking around. There are so many different personalities around here, we could have our own reality show, ‘Inside Solid Waste.’”
Well, if Hollywood ever calls, it’s a perennial topic—the never-ending task of keeping the City bright and clean, with the help of responsible residents.