Officers on the job on Sunset Boulevard.

West Columbia’s waste management team is second to none

Waste management crew.

West Columbia has one of the most-efficient and effective waste management operations in the business.

“We are reminded on a regular basis of how much our residents like our sanitation department,” said Mayor Bobby Horton. “We have  hardworking, dedicated and competent personnel. Our residents let us how know grateful they are for the job the sanitation department does. We are very proud of the people who do the job of keeping West Columbia clean.”

Jamie Hook is West Columbia’s public works director. Hew said it’s a big job, that never stops.

“We have 22 employees and they work four routes picking up the waste for the residents of West Columbia,” said Hook. “They work 7,000 homes a week. The crews run the sanitation routes Monday through Thursday. Friday is our catch-up day for yard trash and special pick-ups. We also do maintenance on our fleet and we conduct special projects like picking up litter in areas that need attention.”

The workload is massive, too, in terms of weight.

In all, Hook said the waste management staff picks up 350 tons of household garbage in a month. About 70 tons of recyclable material is collected and 400 tons of yard waste is gathered and picked up. It’s a colossal job. And to do it with such efficiency requires a special effort. Hook said there is a key to the success of the waste management team.

“We have very good leadership,” he said. “We have five of six employees who have been with the City of West Columbia for more than 20 years. Ryan Miles is the supervisor of the sanitation department. He has been with the city 20 years.”

Jamie Hook

Hook also mentioned Ronnie Mears. He is a crew chief with more than 30 years on the job in West Columbia. “They know how to do their job,” said Hook. “And they have good people working in the department, too.”

The commitment is not one-sided. Hook said the workers in the sanitation department know they are appreciated.

“The staff works hard and the staff works together. And they now they have the support of the city council and they have the support of the West Columbia administration,” said Hook. The citizens love their sanitation workers, too.

The Westover Acres Community Crime Watch Club holds a luncheon for the West Columbia Public Works Department each year. The city employees include the sanitation, water and maintenance department.

The Westover Acres Homeowners Association (the part of the neighborhood from Mohawk to Hummingbird) and the Saluda Chase Homeowners Association also contributes to the event, along with the Crime Watch Club (the part of the neighborhood behind Rush’s.) The event is held to show the appreciation for the job city workers do for West Columbia’s citizens. To hold the luncheon members of the club collect money, gift cards and food for city workers.

In addition to household waste, the waste management team has been responsible for an expansion in the city’s recycle program. Hook said recycling is important.

“Collecting materials for recycling means it does not have to go to the landfill and take up space there,” said Hook.

Ryan Miles, sanitation supervisor.

In the last couple of years the amount of recycling West Columbia picks up has increased from about 40 tons a month to 70 tons a month. Some of the increase is tied to the new residents annexed into West Columbia’s City Limits. Some of the recycle tonnage comes from new construction in the city. But a majority of the increased amount of recycled material collected comes from the city’s effort to go from small recycle bins to the 95-gallon roll carts currently used for recycling.

Not only are the recycled items reused, it keeps from having to use up more materials for new packaging and containers, said Hook. “You save virgin materials.”

In addition to collecting more recycling, Hook said the city has been awarded a grant to buy collectors for recyclable items to place in various locations in the city. There are already collection bins in the State Street area and on Riverwalk. Hook said bins will be added to Triangle City and other areas.

When it comes to waste management, West Columbia is second to none. The people who make the city run are another good reason West Columbia is an ideal place to live.

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