Hometown Talent: Sanitation Dept. employee creates glass recycling dumpsters

October 31, 2018

POCATELLO - At any one of the City of Pocatello’s 10 glass-recycling locations, you’ll see the handiwork of Jon Conn. His art isn’t from a brush, paint, and canvas, his comes in the form of three-yards of steel.

Conn, a Welder/Fabricator for the City of Pocatello Sanitation Department, spends most days repairing the department’s roll-off boxes, containers, and working on the fleet of over 30 trucks. Earlier this year though, Arlyn Rasmussen, retired Sanitation Department Superintendent, asked him not to fix but to create. The department was in the beginning stages of the glass recycling program in Pocatello and one of the early challenges they faced was how exactly to collect glass from residents. Since there was nothing out there on the market for what the department was hoping to do, Rasmussen asked him to modify one of the department’s existing 17-yard containers to accept the glass.

“Starting with the 17-yard boxes, we found they were too big for what we needed,” Conn said. “Because of that, we decided to try something with the smaller 3-yard containers.”

Conn got to work. First, he tried a system that would hold the lid of the 3-yard box up. However, the idea was nixed when staff realized it would be too easy for trash to be placed in the container. Another iteration was too heavy and the containers would be damaged when the department’s trucks picked them up. Undeterred, Conn and the department rolled on and found inspiration for the final design in something most of us see every day.

“Then we thought ‘How about it opening like a jockey box or glove compartment?’” said Conn. “I immediately got excited once we completed the first one.”

They had found a winner. The containers feature two 16-inch pull-out doors, one on each side of the container, for residents to drop in their glass and a bar across the top that locks the container, stopping would be trash dumpers.

“Jon is a fantastic example of the ingenuity our employees are capable of and of the dedication they have to the City of Pocatello,” said Jeff Mansfield, Public Works Director/City Engineer. “He took the idea, developed it into a concept, and then made it a reality. I commend him for his work all the way through the project.”

“When my kids see the containers, they ask ‘Dad, did you build that one?’ ” Conn said. “I’m proud to be doing my part to keep the glass out of the landfill. Everyone involved did a great job.”

For more information on the City of Pocatello Sanitation Department’s glass recycling program, visit pocatello.us/701/Glass-Recycling.