By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News 6/7/20.
While the City of Las Cruces is starting to reopen its departments to the public and adjusting to the “new normal” of day-to-day life, Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) is more focused than ever on precautions to ensure the health and wellness not only of its associates, but also the public. Just as residents are doing at home, LCU has bumped up the cleanliness factor by adding extra custodial staff.
While many LCU associates continue working remotely, the focus is on Utility workers who must enter and exit LCU offices every day, drive shared City vehicles and serve fellow citizens to ensure the continuous flow of natural gas, water, sewer, and trash pickup.
Extra thorough handwashing, mask wearing, and the use of disinfecting wipes are more routine for everyone, but LCU has also implemented extra sanitization services, involving four temporary employees to help with the rotation of cleaning and disinfecting 15 buildings - including two wastewater treatment facilities, the Old Foothills Landfill structures, plus the East Mesa Customer Service office - and a fleet of trucks and City vehicles at least once a day.
“Inside the main administration building we’re cleaning ‘high touch’ areas more than once a day,” said Rudy Silva, LCU service reader senior, who helps coordinate the new temporary crew.
“For example, two extra employees who help our regular janitorial staff will keep going over handles on doors and shared keyboards,” said Silva. “Bathrooms and break rooms are getting more attention to keep down any potential spread of infection down.”
Rooms are being fogged with a disinfecting mist from a handheld machine to cover large surfaces. Temporary employee, Jared Dover, waves the fogger over surfaces like tools in the mechanic’s bay and handles where drivers pull themselves into the trash trucks.
“It’s an incredible job they’re doing to help us clean and disinfect,” said Silva. “They are moving all day long from one area to the next throughout all of our offices and areas where we work.”
Silva also explained that part of the emphasis is on trucks and vehicles after they return to the yard and before they head out the next day. “We want to make sure that the associates return to their next shift with sanitized surfaces,” he said.
LCU can be reached at 575-528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: A temporary LCU employee, Jared Dover, uses a light mist of disinfectant to fog door handles on trucks and tools in the mechanic’s bay as Fleet Maintenance Mechanic Anthony Luna makes repairs inside an LCU trash truck.