On April 30, Greensboro Field Operations Department Director Dale Wyrick is retiring, and it is a more momentous occasion than it might seem.
Wyrick, although he won’t admit it, created the Field Operations Department and is the first and only director the department has ever had.
Wyrick said that using the word “created” gave him too much credit, which is pretty much what you’d expect from someone who generally operated behind the scenes, getting things done.
But Wyrick does admit that establishing a field operations department was his idea, that he put it together and then applied for the job as the director of the brand new Field Operations Department. It was probably only a surprise to Wyrick that he got the job.
Wyrick said that, as a division head in the Transportation Department, he had noted the difficulty in coordinating all the various departments that had to deal with weather emergencies and thought it would streamline the operation if as many as possible of the divisions responding were in the same department.
As a result, Wyrick said he is looking forward to the first snow of his retirement, since one of the many jobs of field operations is clearing the streets of ice and snow.
Most people come in contact with field operations because it is also in charge of trash, recycling, yard waste and bulk pick-up. Sometime around 2010, the Field Operations Department also took over operation of the White Street Landfill, where yard waste and construction debris go, and the transfer station where what most people call garbage, but what is officially municipal solid waste, goes.
It also puts Wyrick in charge of getting the garbage from the transfer station to the landfill, which means complicated hauling and landfill contracts have to be negotiated. At times these contracts have generated a lot of publicity but Wyrick recently negotiated the contract with the Randolph County Landfill for another three years without too much fanfare.
Field operations is also in charge of street and sidewalk repair, mowing the rights-of-way and parks, landscaping around city buildings, tree trimming and removal, stormwater runoff, street cleaning, litter, dead animal pick-up and, a topic that the City Council discusses every year in the fall, loose leaf collection.
Wyrick said, “I know the number one call field operations used to get is dead animal pick-up and it still might be.”
Some people, if they were putting together a department they hoped to run, might have included fewer services and maybe left dead animal collection for someone else.
Wyrick said that yard waste included removing debris from across the city after a significant weather event.
He said, “We’ve got a prepositioned contractor in place to come in and start cleaning up immediately after a major storm, but it still can take four or five months. Those are times I definitely will not miss.”
Wyrick said that after one storm it took the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) a couple of weeks to get here to investigate and determine if the event qualified as a federal emergency, which of course results in a considerable amount of federal money. He said the FEMA folks rode around town and said it didn’t look that bad and then Wyrick took them to the landfill to show them what had already been collected and they agreed that it qualified for federal emergency funds.
Wyrick said one of his goals in running the Field Operations Department was to change people’s perspective about government. He said, “We want to be a department that gets things done.”
And he said the people working for him had made that possible.
Wyrick said, “That’s the part I’m going to miss most being part of a group of people who care enough to get things done.”