It’s been almost 18 years since the tragic loss of Rick Huff, a local musician and songwriter who chronicled the everyday life on Folly Beach. His songs are just as relevant today as they were two decades ago when he wrote them. One timeless example is the song he wrote about Public Works titled “Big Orange Truck.”
I see you guys every few days
Driving that big orange truck
No matter what we throw out
You’re there to pick it up
And we do appreciate it
Though we don’t say that enough
‘Cuz the sad truth is that most of us
Just got too much stuff
The Big Orange Truck guys are the 13 members of the Public Works department whose primary job is to pick up whatever we put out. And we put out a lot. Last year they hauled away 3,444 tons of trash and debris. That equates to over 3,300 pounds for every resident. They work 5, 6, and sometimes 7 days a week depending on the season and ongoing activities, festivals, or impending storms. A typical day begins at 6 am when the drivers pick up their trucks and then meet their crews at 6:30 am to begin their routes. When residents talk about the Big Orange Truck crew, the conversation usually includes comments about how accommodating and genuinely happy they seem to be. They always have a smile and a wave.
If you spend just five minutes with Public Works Foreman Earl Wright, you would understand why the PW crews are the way they are. Most notably, Earl has a perpetual smile and twinkle in his eye. He loves his job (he’s been at it for 29 years) and he loves his crews, who he calls his family. Earl is the kind of boss who is willing to do anything he asks his team to do. Having a boss like Earl would make anyone smile.
Solid waste collection is only about 75% of the team’s responsibility. Their other duties as required list is long and impressive. It includes festival prep and clean up, pre and post storm prep and cleanup, maintaining all city properties, landscaping the causeway and city parks, maintaining and installing signs (like the new beach access signs), maintaining beach accesses, cleaning the streets, maintaining right of ways, putting up and taking down holiday lighting, removing beach debris, and even disposing of dead animals.
The most important thing Earl wants to share with residents is that he and his team are willing to accommodate your needs. If you have a question or a special need, just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call City Hall at 843-588-2447. Earl also requests that residents be familiar with the trash pick up schedule available on the city’s website (or scan the QR code).
If Rick Huff was correct and you don’t acknowledge your appreciation of Public Works enough, you are welcome to make a donation to the annual Public Works & Utilities luncheon (see below), or alternatively, drop off a special donation for Public Works at City Hall, see Marlene (who according to Rick Huff is the real person who runs the City, but that’s another song for another time).