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The original item was published from 8/5/2022 1:09:02 PM to 9/18/2022 12:00:00 AM.

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Posted on: July 17, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Day in the Life: LCU’s Commercial Solid Waste

LCU Mike Apodaca

By Cassie McClure 

Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on 7/17/2022

 “It’s a matter of trust,” said Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) Solid Waste Heavy Equipment Operator Mike Apodaca. “Customers trust that I do my job, and it’s a trust I take seriously.”

Apodaca is a part of the Solid Waste line of business at LCU, specifically as a Commercial trash truck driver. Even more specialized, he’s the driver that picks up in tight spaces for the smaller dumpsters hidden in tight alleyways or smaller parking lots all over town, especially in the older neighborhoods.

Commercial dumpsters come in sizes from 1.5 to 8 cubic yards, depending on the needs of the business. When businesses only have space for a small dumpster, it may be picked up more than once a week for an additional charge. The same rules apply to dumpsters as regular trash: no hot ashes or coals, tires, dead animals, or hazardous materials, including medical waste. Construction or remodeling material should also not be included, and everything should be bagged. Any enclosures should be kept free and clear for the truck to be able to pick up the dumpster.

Over the last 15 years, Apodaca has been a steady face in the community, picking up all over town. LCU Solid Waste Supervisor Philip Glasson explained that specialized roles like Apodaca’s are one way to enhance customer service.

“This is how we can be more accommodating to our customer needs,” Glasson said. “So many of our customers know who he is and wave to him. He’s like the old-fashioned trash truck driver and plays a big role in keeping our city sanitary.”

Apodaca agrees and takes pride in meeting business owners and residents, from the very young to the older customers. “I asked one mom if I could buy her son a truck for Christmas because I would see them so often,” he said. “And during the pandemic, another resident made me masks that she sewed herself.”

Apodaca said that his route enables a bit of flexibility that allows for humanity as well. “My next stop after this is the cemetery,” he said. “If there is a service in progress, I come back later. It’s about respect for families and respect for our community. It’s not important what we do, but how we do it.”

LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at:  

For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500. 


PHOTO 1: LCU Solid Waste Heavy Equipment Operator Mike Apodaca is the commercial route driver for dumpsters in tight spaces, which may be harder to reach due to being in back alleys or near power lines.

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