Keeping Fort Dodge green

At a time when other Fort Dodge residents are wiping the sleep from their eyes, Troy Anderson is already at work picking up all the stuff they placed outside for the weekly recycling collection.

The daily routine for the city Public Works Department employee starts early and involves emptying the blue recycling bins into a specialized truck. When the truck is full, he drives to the regional recycling center on Gypsum Hollow Road and empties it.

His shifts start at 6 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. He said those hours attracted him to the job.

”I’m a morning person anyways,” he said. ”The day goes fast, too.”

He started working for the city 11 years ago on a garbage truck. He’s since moved to a recycling truck.

After more than a decade on the job, Anderson knows how to find every street and alley in town.

He remembers which homes usually have big loads of trash and recyclables to pick up and which ones usually have small piles. He figures he’s seen about everything in a garbage can or recycling bin.

”If you can name it, we’ve picked it up,” he said.

Anderson starts his workdays by inspecting his truck. Then he goes out on the road to start picking things up.

A glimpse in the cab of the 1997 International rig Anderson usually drives reveals two steering wheels. One is on the left side of cab, where an American driver would expect to find it, and the other is on the right side, where a British driver would expect to find it. Anderson said when he leaves the city’s central garage at 3001 Eighth Ave. S., he sits behind the wheel on the left side. When he gets to the neighborhood where he’s to pick up the recycling materials, he switches to the right side of the cab since that puts him closer to the curb and the recycling bins. Although there’s a folding seat on that side of the cab, Anderson usually stands when he’s steering from that position.

Mondays are the biggest days for sanitation collection in Fort Dodge, according to Anderson. He estimates that he’s in and out of the truck cab 400 times a day on Mondays.

He said he’s looking forward to the arrival of a new style of truck equipped with a mechanical arm for lifting and emptying recycling bins and trash containers. The city is expected to get those rigs late this year or early next year.

Emptying the blue bins into the truck isn’t Anderson’s only role. During winter storms, he drives a snow plow. Sometimes he drives dump trucks to help public works employees fixing water mains.

Away from work, Anderson joins forces with three other public works employees to enter barbecue contests. Their team is called T/Roy’s Barbecue. He said the team has won the People’s Choice Award for Pulled Pork four of the last five years at the Wild Rose Hog Wild Barbecue Competition in Emmetsburg.

Anderson is a native of Fort Dodge who graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High School. He earned an associate’s degree from Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls. He worked for 15 years at NEW Cooperative in Vincent before joining the city staff.