Street sweeper driver deserves full stocking

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 11, 2011

As Christmas nears, I have some people in mind whom I hope Santa treats very well, and some I wouldn’t mind to see him skip over.

I hope stockings turn up empty for those who add to the littering problem here in town by discarding their refuse improperly, and sometimes downright illegally.

A good example is the guy I passed on a walk this summer who had just mowed the overgrown lawn around some rental property and was trying to get all the grass clippings stuck down the storm drain on his corner!

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The person or persons who left the string of fresh fish on the street in front of Liebert where it lay rotting for several days is another that comes to mind.

If I were Santa, I’d fill other stockings to overflowing.

Right up there on that list would be Jerry Browning, a Tenth Street resident who has run the town’s street sweeper for the last four years.

Except for holidays or extremely bad-weather days, you’ll see him, right on schedule, dealing with the litter that is always a threat to our city’s beauty.

This is no easy task. A street sweeper is an extremely complicated machine that must do its job in a constant dusty, dirty, vibrating, and often wet environment. I was not surprised to hear that the upkeep on this piece of equipment makes it very expensive to operate and difficult to keep in working condition day after day.

The city mechanics find it a frequent visitor.

Piles of leaves that have been raked into the street add an extra strain this time of year. If the sweeper doesn’t have about an 11 by 3 foot clearance from the curb, its huge mirrors prevent it from cleaning close to the sidewalk.

Yet if you talk to Jerry you won’t hear him complaining. He seems to see the job as a challenge and has been known to go to work sick to stick to the published schedule.

Folks in the know tell me he has developed a relationship with this fragile beast and can head off trouble before it becomes incapacitating.

I called him just to ask if there is any way we residents can help him do a good job. He says the Scouts will be going door to door this month to distribute a new sweeper schedule and that it would help if we post it and make sure our cars are off the street on our scheduled day.

He says there will be some other important information on the schedule that he hopes everyone will take time to read. He asks that we, when possible, keep tree lawns trimmed and cut back away from the curb to allow for the sweeper’s projecting mirrors.

That’s little enough to ask from the fella’ who deals with our city’s litter on a daily basis.

I realize that Jerry is only one of the unsung heroes who attempt to keep our city running at its best, but it doesn’t hurt to single one out for praise occasionally.

Santa, are you reading this?


Judy Sanders is an Ironton resident and a volunteer with the Ironton In Bloom organization.