Wrapping paper and bows that once looked so beautiful under Christmas trees became gnarled masses of frozen trash when the blizzard blew across Jennings County the day after Christmas.
The 10 members of the North Vernon Street Department knew their job would be more difficult than usual even before the blizzard complicated things.
The piles of empty boxes, gift wrapping and the remnants of holiday feasts make the department crew’s work more difficult than at any other time of year. In addition, this year’s after-Christmas cleanup also would include the routine trash pickup for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Since the street crew also clears streets of ice and snow, the blizzard delivered a whole new slate of problems.
“It’s a juggling act,” North Vernon Mayor Harold “Soup” Campbell said. “First we have to get the streets clear enough for essential traffic and emergency vehicles, then we can worry about the trash.”
According to Campbell, North Vernon has three packer (trash) trucks and six snowplow trucks to complete all of their missions.
“We have four trucks working on the street at any given time. It’s going to take longer than usual, but we should be caught up with the trash pickup by Monday or Tuesday at the latest,” Campbell said.
Normally, three crew members are assigned to pick up trash every Monday through Friday. The other seven crew members work at repairing the streets while the trash crew is working.
On a day like last Wednesday, all Street Department employees pitch in to work where they are needed.
“I am very lucky,” Street Superintendent Rick Marksberry said as he operated a snowplow to help the crews clear the street. “I work with a great bunch of guys. They never complain. On a day like this, they come in all bundled up and ready to work. They’ll put in a 10-hour day and do whatever they need to do to get the job done.”
According to Marksberry, most people do not think of their trash until it piles up in their home, and then it becomes very important.
“Several people called to see if we were going to pick up trash today,” Marksberry said Wednesday.
“No one called to see if the streets were open for traffic. ... We never close till the job is done,” he said.