COLUMN: Monticello Fire Department is asking for your help

Mark Spensley
Express Co-Publisher

     Picture yourself in this situation. It’s a hot summer weekend day, hovering around 90+ degrees. You have a decision to make. If you go with choice A, you get to sit in your nice air-conditioned home. The relief from the heat is only temporary though because choice B is going to happen, no matter what.

     Choice B isn’t even close to being fun. It involves helping your organization that you volunteer for. The job will be hot, sweaty, stinky, gross and offer no satisfaction once completed. But your organization is important to you and the results of your task are important to your community.

     The items you will be working with will be dirty, disgusting, smelly and often be a bee hazard.

     Choice B can also happen in sub degree winter weather. No heater or protection from the elements. The items that you are working with will be frozen, and partially filled at times and covered in snow and ice.

     The above scenario I just mentioned takes place every week at the fire department can redemption shed and the reason I am bringing it up is because the Monticello Fire Department is asking for the community’s help.

     An ongoing problem at the redemption shed, in addition to receiving returnable cans and bottles that are left to sort, community members are also leaving items that the fire department shouldn’t be asked to put their hands on: diapers, needles, cigarette butts, garbage, chewing tobacco spit, plastic water bottles, non-returnable bottles, garbage and food. I am not exaggerating.

     People are also not taking the time to throw their returnables inside of the fenced-in area specifically designed to keep cans and bottles from blowing into the neighbors’ yards.

     So, the department is asking for the community’s help, to keep its members and volunteers safe. Please, do not discard anything into the can cage that doesn’t have a deposit value. The can shed is not a recycling center for your recyclables. Water bottles are not redeemable.

     I’m going to leave you with a short first-hand experience of one of my weeks of sorting cans. For a quick background history, each firefighter is assigned a week to sort cans, Monday thru Sunday. Some weeks are busier than others, like the holidays.

     We sort cans, bottles, pop from beer, and liquor bottles too. I happened to have the week following Labor Day a couple of years ago. I’d sort once or twice a day so as to not ever fall behind.

     I’d finished up on my Saturday morning sort when I received a text from a neighbor that a local business had brought a wagon full of returnables. No big deal, I had plenty of time and nothing going on that day.

     But when I got to the can shed, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Every can and bottle were individually tossed into the cage, nothing bagged up or in boxes. The stuff was literally shoveled off the wagon and into the cage. And it was beyond full.

     It didn’t take long to discover that not only did I receive a full haul of cans and bottles, which would add up nicely for the community fireworks fund, I also received a couple weeks’ worth of garbage and recyclables too.

     And it was disgusting. Food scraps, diapers and just about anything else that would make your stomach churn. Thankfully a few other firefighters came to the can shed and gave me a hand that day.

     So please, next time you drop off your cans and bottles, take a moment to sort them beforehand. Keep then free of garbage and non-returnables. Emptying them out is a big help as well. Your local fire department will much appreciate that extra effort.



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