A large white truck rolled to a stop next to a green container as a small group of people watched Saturday morning.
A mechanical arm extended out from the truck's side, grasped the container with a pair of pincers and lifted it smoothly off the ground. Seconds later, the container was upside down over an opening in one of Fort Dodge's newest solid waste collection vehicles.
Nothing fell out of the empty container. But starting next month, trash and recycling materials will be tumbling out of similar containers as a new sanitation system begins.
-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Layton Briggs, 4, of Fort Dodge, watches as the driver of a new solid waste collection truck uses its arm to lift a container Saturday morning. Briggs and his father, Heath Briggs, went to an open house at the city’s central garage that featured the new trucks.
The lifting and emptying of the 96-gallon containers Saturday was the highlight of an open house that showed members of the public how the new rigs work and gave their drivers some practice.
The two new trucks made laps around the city's central garage, 3001 Eighth Ave. S., while their drivers practiced lifting and emptying containers.
Among those watching the trucks were Heath Briggs, of Fort Dodge, and his son, Layton Briggs, 4.
Heath Briggs said he was interested in seeing the vehicles because he works for a company that makes hydraulic valves similar to the ones that enable the arms to lift and empty containers.
He said he brought his son because he thought trucks with arms might remind him of the Transformers, which are toy robots disguised as different types of vehicles.
Merle Porter, the operations superintendent of the Public Works Department, said two employees will be assigned as the primary drivers of the new trucks. He added that all seven employees of the sanitation division will be trained to operate them.
Porter said this week the crews will begin some realistic training. He said some of the department's pickup trucks will be positioned near the containers so the drivers can get used to working with parked vehicles nearby.
Those containers will be delivered to Fort Dodge sanitation customers beginning Monday. Each household will get two of them. Both have green bodies. The container with the green lid is for garbage. The container with the blue lid that has the words ''Recycling Only'' stamped on it is for recyclables. Residents will be able to drop all their recycling items in that container without sorting them.
The new collection system begins Feb. 3.
For most residents, garbage collection will be done on the same day of the week as it is currently. For example, residents whose trash is collected on Mondays should continue to put it out for pickup on Mondays.
Recycling pickups which are now done weekly for every household will be done every other week on Wednesdays. The first recycling pickup will be done on Feb. 5.
Detailed collection schedules were mailed to residents.
On collection days, the containers should be placed at the end of the driveway or on the strip of grass between the curb and the sidewalk. There must be at least 3 feet of open space on either side of the container.