Foul odors, angry mob drive strikers back to work

By Max Fontaine|Had-it-up-to-here beat


Trash cans aren’t the only ones happy about the end of the months-long strike by Bass Lake Utilities and Garbage Collection. (Max Fontaine, Beacon)

Bass Lake Utility Workers have ended a months-long strike following mob-action by residents fed up with the smell of their own garbage.

Tens of angry citizens marched on the homes of the striking trash-and-hydrant men who walked off the job in early April in protest of stagnant wages.

But it was stagnation of a different type that eventually forced and end to the work stoppage.

“The stench was getting unbearable,” said Bass Lake resident Johhny Ogilvy of the uncollected garbage piling up on the street in front of his East North Avenue bungalow. “There’s been a bag of bluegill parts rotting in there since Easter.”

Melting fish is not the only offensive rubbish that has accumulated since the walkout began April 5. The semi-annual yard waste pickup was canceled as was the twice-yearly large item trash day.

Mayor Forrest Bunkard called the end of the strike “a promising development, if not an actual solution.” Bunkard, who was reached at his vacation home in Nearbytown, added that the lengthy work-inaction was rivaled only by the “Great Pothole Neglection of 1977” where street worker decided to stop filling in areas of former pavement.

“That was something,” Bunkard said. “I lost the front end of my Honda Civic in a hole the size of Nebraska. Literally, it was that big.”

Bass Lake Utilities and Garbage Collection spokesman Thor Hydrantal called the strike “unhelpful” in the effort to improve wages for the six-man staff.

“The (town) council seemed unfazed by the garbage piling up in their driveways,” Hydrantal said. “I can’t believe those people actually live that way, with their refuse everywhere. I’m sickened by it. That’s why we stopped. The mobs were boring. It was becoming an embarrassment.”

The mobs, roughly 10 to 20 residents strung out across town at the homes of the strikers, had no slogans or direction it seemed.

“We were overcome by fumes,” said one marcher. “I had to stop into Funky’s for a beer.”

It’s estimated that 45 micro-tons of household diapers and half-eaten pizzas and at least three mature cottonwood trees of yard debris piled up during the stoppage.

Hydrantal expects the backlog to be collected by early 2020.

“It didn’t pile up overnight, did it?” he said. “I just hope it doesn’t snow this year.”


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