NORTH AUGUSTA - Vehicles may be limited to six at one time, but both Augusta transfer stations are still in business during this pandemic.
"Recently our weekdays have seemed more like Saturdays when it comes to being busy," says Karen Jones, an employee who alternates between both township transfer stations, the other being located in Maynard.
It seems clear to her that with more people forced to stay at home, they are using their time productively to clean out their homes, garages and property. Employees have seen a big upswing in the amount of brush being brought to the dumps.
"People need something to do and we've had a few days where the weather cooperated beautifully for raking or cleaning out the garage," says Jones.
Even though it is still business as usual, there are some new rules put in place since the arrival of COVID-19. Only six vehicles are allowed on site at once. Even those must park well away from each other. No construction materials are being accepted because there is a fee for that and the employees are not accepting money right now.
They aren't set up for Interac or credit card and there is no facility to wash any cash.
"People have been really good about all this with almost no complaints. But a lot of people bring their dogs along for the ride to the dump and the pets are noticing that we can't hand out treats anymore," says Jones.
One thing that hasn't changed is the employees' senses of humour. Easter decorations were strung along the gates and the personnel shed last Saturday and a cheerful Easter basket hung from the main sign. Employees at both sites enjoy decorating for all holidays as they crop up through the year. Usually there is even music piped over the site from a hidden radio.
"We are really trying to keep people's spirits up. We have always considered ourselves an essential service - and especially now," says Jones.
"What would happen if we weren't here and all this garbage was building up in garages or backyards? It would be a breeding ground for bacteria and disease. Here we can look after it properly and do our part to keep everyone safe. I'm proud of that," she says.