Public works employees clean up the mess the others left behind |

Public works employees clean up the mess the others left behind

Emily Aughinbaugh, Tribune staff writer

Some South Shore residents were up to their necks in champagne bottles Sunday night and got paid for it.

Six public works employees from the city of South Lake Tahoe worked yet another New Year’s Eve cleaning up after close to 50,000 Stateline celebrants.

Leo Tate, city street superintendent, said the public works department has been involved in the first of the year festivities for more than 16 years, providing necessary trash removal, traffic direction and police assistance for the California side.

The public works crew blocks off side streets for the police around 6 p.m. and works until 2 a.m.

“When we get word (the police) want to close the streets, they want them closed quickly,” Tate said, explaining why his crew generally starts organizing street barricades around 2 p.m. New Year’s Eve.

Tate said the holiday crew paid particular attention to Heavenly’s new gondola this year, trying to deny access to misguided revelers.

He said public works sets out 40, 55-gallon garbage cans, many of which are emptied every 20 minutes.

Tate said the city of South Lake Tahoe collected about 5 or 6 cubic yards of trash, which is a little more than a dump truck.

Although that might not seem like much garbage for a party of such a large magnitude, Tate said it’s actually quite a bit considering the party only runs for about five hours.

Sgt. Lance Modispacher, of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said the New Year’s celebration can be a very messy event, but the no can or bottle ordinance passed by the county commissioners has really helped.

Modispacher said in past years people had thrown large Magnum champagne and beer bottles into the crowd. He said people in fights would often roll around on the ground in broken glass, but the ordinance and increased police patrols have cut down on such activities.

The California Department of Transportation is in charge of the actual street cleaning. Caltrans said the job usually isn’t too bad, however it takes four to six guys working late into the morning after the streets are opened again to rid the highway of celebratory debris. The department could not estimate how much trash is cleaned off the streets.

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