West Columbia staff grateful, but busy, in the Christmas season – with Lucen Martin Spotlight

Spotlight on Lucen Martin, of the City of West Columbia Sanitation Department.

Christmas season is a time to slow down, enjoy family, and take some time off. And that is true for the City of West Columbia Sanitation Department. 

But after the holidays, the city’s clean-up staff works twice as hard. Part of the reason is to catch up for the days off. And the department must address the volume of waste that increases because of Christmas packaging and gifts. 

“We see a 20 percent increase in the amount of waste we pick up,” said Jamie Hook, City of West Columbia Public Works director. He said normally, the city’s sanitation staff picks up about 70 tons of household garbage in a week. “That increases to about 84 or 85 tons in the week after Christmas,” said Hook. 

In a normal week, the West Columbia Sanitation Department picks up about 30 tons of recyclable material. Hook said in the week after Christmas, that amount swells to about 37 tons of recyclables. 

With the holidays, the schedule changes a little, too. In a flyer, West Columbia Sanitation customers will receive beginning the week of Dec. 17, the holiday pick-up schedule will be detailed. Hook said sanitation staff will not run their routes on Dec. 24, 25, and 26. That is Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. But the routes will be worked on Thursday and Friday of that week, Dec. 27 and Dec. 28. 

“We double-up the number of routes they run on Thursday and Friday,” said Hook. “We’ll work extra hours until we get everything picked up,” said Hook. 

In addition to the regular waste items, Hook said the sanitation department sees much more in the way of cardboard boxes and wrapping paper. Both are recyclable. One of the waste items prominent around Christmas is Styrofoam. Hook said Styrofoam is not a recyclable product and should be placed in the garbage container, not in the recycle container. “Styrofoam in the recycle bin is a problem,” said Hook. “Styrofoam is not a recyclable product.”  

And in the two weeks after Christmas, the city is also charged with the task of picking up discarded Christmas trees. Hook reminds sanitation customers to make sure all of the ornaments and lights are off of the trees before placing them outside for pick up. 

SC DNR staff deploying Christmas trees for use as fish habitat. SC DNR Photo.

West Columbia Sanitation gives the trees it collects from residents to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.  “The trees are used for fish habitats in Lake Murray,” said Hook. 

Spotlight on Lucen “Junior” Martin, of the City of West Columbia Sanitation Department

Hook also said at Christmas, the sanitation department has to work as a team to account for the increase in tonnage. One of his go-to guys in the sanitation department is Lucen “Junior” Martin. Martin is a CDL driver for the City of West Columbia, who drives sanitation and recycle routes. 

“Lucen Martin is a mentor and leader to his co-workers He is a pleasure to work with because he cares about the people of West Columbia,” said Hook. “He has the mentality each day to leave it better than he found it that morning.” 

Martin has been with the city 11 years. He said he works hard for West Columbia, because there is a mutual respect between the people he serves and the city’s staff. 

“We have a good relationship with the customers,” said Martin. “They look out for us, and we want to look out for them.” 

Martin said there are times when someone has trouble getting their trash bin out to the curb in time. “But we still pick it up, even if it’s late, if we see it out there,” he said. That’s just one example of doing a little extra to help, and it is noticed. 

City sanitation dept. staff.

Martin said he is grateful for the consideration residents show for the people who work for the city. Residents of several neighborhoods host an annual luncheon for sanitation and other city personnel  at the B Avenue Community Center. Martin was at that event last week.

I appreciate the luncheon,” he said. “I really enjoyed it.”

Martin also said he likes helping people. It gives him a good feeling.

When I go home everyday, I am satisfied,” said Martin. “When I go to bed at night it’s a good feeling to know you help people.”

Martin, and all of the staff of the City of West Columbia, is another reason the city is a great place to live. That is even more apparent in the Christmas season. 


  1. Good human interests article Terry, thanks for recognizing hard working people who deserve thanks.

  2. The West Columbia sanitation department is the best! They are extremely kind and very eager to help their residents.

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