One of the first opportunities for Wright County to
start serving residents in person came yesterday (May 7) when the Wright County
Compost & Recycling Facility reopened for business.
Wright County Solid Waste Administrator Bill Stephens
said he knew the facility would experience a lot of traffic, but was unsure how
the operations would go with social distancing measures being taken to limit contact
between staff and the public. He was pleasantly surprised how easily the traffic
moved in and out of the facility given the hectic pace.
“It was busy,” Stephens said. “Everyone did pretty
much what we asked them to do. It was quite surprising, to be honest, how
smoothly it went. Almost everyone needed to set up appointment times and most
came in pretty close to their time. Virtually everybody showed up. There were
no complaints about having to do self-service – pulling out their paint
themselves and putting them on the palates and unloading their appliances and TVs
themselves. I would say 98 or 99 percent were very good.”
On a typical spring Thursday, the facility would
average about 60 vehicles a day. Stephens estimated there were 115 people that came
in with household hazardous waste, 50 with recycling, more than 100 dropping off
yard waste and brush and 40-50 loads of compost and mulch that went out. In
all, Stephens said there were close to 250 vehicles that came to the facility
in a nine-hour period.
Because of the demand, Stephens made the decision to reduce
the time between scheduled appointments, because he knew appointments were
going to fill quickly.
“We’re open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and normally we schedule
10 minutes between appointments,” Stephens said. “But, we knew we were going to
busy, so we switched it to five minutes. That comes out to 12 an hour for nine
hours and the schedule was fully loaded. We had eight to 10 people that were on
the schedule that didn’t show, but we had about a dozen people who didn’t have
an appointment that showed up. It kind of balanced out.”
Those that arrived were mindful of the rules that were
place and Stephens said an unexpected addition to the site for much of the day
may have inadvertently contributed to the success of the reopening.
“It was very busy, but thankfully and to their credit,
everybody did what they were asked to do and things went off as hoped,” Stephens
said. “The sheriff’s department was out there training their German shepherds.
We didn’t anticipate they were going to be there that day. Maybe the presence
of two dozen sheriff’s cars made everybody shape up a little bit.”
Stephens credited the work done by Craig Mueller, the
facility manager, and Steve Waddell, Compost & Recycling Facility assistant,
for their efforts in keeping the flow of traffic moving and getting customers
in and out of the facility in good spirits.
For the time being, the facility will remain open just
on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. That will likely change if the stay at home
order if lifted by the state, but, for now, Stephens said the facility will
remain on its current one-day schedule. His hope is that every day is like the
one he witnessed Thursday.
“I don’t think it could have turned out much better
than it did,” Stephens said. “We didn’t know what to expect coming in. We knew
it was going to be busy with all the scheduled appointments, but it went like
clockwork and we couldn’t have been happier with how things went.”