As everyone in Bethlehem knows, there is no municipal curbside garbage pickup in the city, but the city Parks Department recently sent a truck and an employee to the neighboring borough of Hellertown for a day to help it avert a garbage crisis.
“It was the neighborly thing to do,” said Ralph Carp, the city’s director of Parks & Public Property.
Hellertown’s unusual crisis occurred when both of the borough’s garbage trucks went down at the same time, according to Public Works Director Tom Henshaw.
One of the two trucks, which is newer, developed transmission problems, while the other truck developed an air leak while dropping off garbage at .
With both trucks out of service simultaneously, Henshaw, Borough Manager Cathy Kichline and Assistant Borough Manager Tina Krasnansky sprang into action, calling every sanitation department in the Lehigh Valley for assistance.
Ultimately, Henshaw said, it was the city that agreed to send one of its parks department trucks to pick up garbage in the borough on Friday, June 29.
“They were really in a panic,” Carp said. “Two garbage trucks are broken down and its 100 degrees.”
Bethlehem’s Department of Parks & Public Property has one garbage truck that it uses to collect garbage in city parks, Little League fields and the trash receptacles in the two downtowns. With some consultation with other city personnel, Carp decided that the truck could be spared for part of one day.
The driver started out at 4:30 a.m. and met up with Hellertown employees who manned the back of the truck and tossed the trash in to the compactor, Carp said. About six hours of the truck and driver’s time was spent on the operation.
"They went above and beyond," Henshaw told Hellertown council, adding that the workers willingly sacrificed their regular responsibilities in order to help the borough in its hour of need.
Council subsequently decided to send a thank you note to the city, in recognition of what its employees did.
One of the borough trucks was back in operation as of July 2 and the other should be up and running soon, Henshaw said.
There was little if any net cost to Bethlehem, Carp said. Hellertown filled the truck with diesel fuel and paid for tipping costs, which included some garbage that had been collected in Bethlehem the previous day. The driver was paid a few hours overtime to start his day early, Carp said.
Carp said he told Henshaw that maybe the day will come when Hellertown can return the favor.
“I’ve got a marker,” Carp said. “I don’t think that neighboring municipalities work together enough to help each other out.”