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Safety is stressed to Southmoreland Primary Center students

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer
David Smith, Allied waste general manager, informs students at Southmoreland Primary Center April 17 about safety while displaying one of the company's trucks.

Students at Southmoreland Primary Center gazed with interest at the big truck parked at the school and learned a valuable lesson in the process.

While a garbage truck may be an awesome sight and somewhat attractive to young, inquiring minds, it is best to keep a safe distance from the truck.

Representatives from Allied Waste came to the school in Alverton April 17 to spread the message of safety.

“We want you guys to be safe,” said David Smith, Allied Waste general manager, to a group of kindergarten and first-grade students. “Our trucks are really, really big and you guys are small. We don't want you guys to get hurt....Anytime you see big trucks you should stay away.”

Smith stressed to his audience that at least 15 feet is a safe distance for how far to stay away from not only garbage trucks, but any big truck.

The presentation included a short video featuring Garbage Gus, the talking garbage truck which serves as a sort of mascot for Allied Waste. The video also stressed the message of safety complete with a rap ditty that had some of the kids bopping to the beat.

The students also had a chance to see a garbage truck and a demonstration on how the truck uses a mechanical arm to lift a garbage can and dump its contents into the truck.

Andrea Ansell, Allied Waste office manager, explained the presentation is part of an educational program provided by the company every other year.

“One year we do a recycling program, one year we do a garbage package to teach the children safety,” Ansell explained. “Not only with our trucks, but with all trucks. Our primary concern is the safety of the children. We try to do it in the spring, because schools are out in the summer and the kids are playing and they're not paying attention to what they're doing. We think this is a good time of the year to have it fresh in their mind.”

Ansell added the kids are usually very inquisitive during these sessions. In fact, when Smith asked if there any questions many of the students hands shot up with questions such as how big can the trucks can be (to which Smith answered up to 28,000 pounds). To further explain the immense size of the trucks, Smith demonstrated the height of the tires to be about as tall as the average student in the session.

“They're amazed how large the trucks are once they get so close to them,” Ansell said. “We try to instill the safety in the children, no matter what.”

Dan Clara, primary center principal, appreciates having such a program at the school.

“I think it helps us to make our kids a little more environmentally conscious,” he said. “The earlier we can do that with our kids then they're more likely to carry that on in their lives. Having (Allied Waste) talk to us about the value of things goes more to the well-being and happiness of (the students) and their kids and they will be better served.”

Ansell said the program is primarily done just at the Southmoreland School District, but has been taken to other places such as the Y Tots and the Scottdale Public Library, plus a private school in the Hempfield area.

“If someone asks us, we try to accommodate who we can,” she said.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or