09/02/05 — Officials changing services to conserve

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Officials changing services to conserve

By Renee Carey
Published in News on September 2, 2005 1:48 PM

City residents won't experience any change in essential services because of gas prices and shortage concerns, but they might see some high grass, officials announced Thursday.

Goldsboro waste collection will not be affected by the call to conserve, although services like recycling and bulky item pickup will be delayed a week, city officials announced Thursday. City fire and police response will remain at the same level, however, although officials are taking measures to reduce costs.

In addition, the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority announced it will limit transportation services.

The changes came as a result of a series of meetings among city and county officials to discuss ways to make sure city and county business gets done without wasting gasoline, Goldsboro City Manager Joe Huffman said.

And one of the first places the city is looking to cut down on usage and costs is grass-cutting, he said.

In addition, city workers are being asked to reduce their hours.

"We are trying to encourage people who don't have to be at work to stay home," he said.

The city's technical staff is working to allow employees to telecommute to eliminate their need to come into the office.

"We are also encouraging people to carpool," he said.

Director of General Services Joe Sawyer said the city will continue its garbage pickup schedule, although other services will wait.

"We are compressing our schedule," Sawyer said. "We are asking residents not to put out leaf and limb and recycling until next week."

Huffman said the delay does not mean residents should place recycling materials in with their regular garbage. They should simply hold them until the following week.

"They don't pose a health hazard like garbage does," Huffman said.

The same rules will apply to appliance and bulky item pickup, Sawyer said.

"They can call and we will schedule a pickup for them," he said.

Sawyer said he hopes the interruption will be brief.

"Once we start getting back some fuel, we will resume our regular operations," he said.

He added that city workers in the departments he supervises will be working four, 10-hour or four, nine-hour days as part of the city's efforts to cut back on their gas usage.

Goldsboro Fire Chief Bobby Greenfield said his department is also changing some of its response procedures in the wake of the gas issues. He emphasized, however, that services will not be affected.

The department will respond to fire alarms with one firetruck for now, rather than the usual three engines and a ladder company.

The crew on the advance truck will notify the department immediately if there is a need to send out more trucks to the scene, the chief said.

"If we need to send more, we will send them right out," he said.

If the call comes in as a structure fire, the department will send its "full response," Greenfield said.

The fire department also usually sends a truck along with Wayne County EMS crews and is considering altering that response as well, he said.

The department will monitor carefully which vehicles are used at the scene, the chief said.

"Vehicles that are not used to pump water on a fire will be parked in a well-lit area and guarded," he said.

Also as part of its efforts to conserve, the fire department will suspend all training that requires use of vehicles and will allow it to reduce its yard maintenance work until the gas shortage concerns are eliminated.

Goldsboro police Chief Tim Bell said his officers are also looking for ways to cut down on gas usage, although there will be no interruption of response to emergencies.

"We will still be doing proactive patrolling," he said. "We will patrol our streets as we have always patrolled our streets."

Bell said investigators are coming up with their own ways to conserve gas, carpooling whenever possible and combining trips.

"They are watching their gas consumption on their own," he said.

Citizens who use the Gateway bus system will be able to ride at 7:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday on the three city routes. There will be no Saturday service.

Citizens can count on the city to provide the services residents need, Mayor King said.

"We ask the citizens to understand where we are coming from," he said. "We might think we have it bad here, but look at the people on the Gulf Coast and you will see we really do not have a problem."

Huffman suggested residents resist the temptation to react when they hear what might seem like a reason to panic about shortages.

"There are so many rumors out there, people do not know what to believe," he said. "If people are looking out for each other instead of competing with each other, we'll be OK."