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Labor Day workers keep Juneau running on the holiday

Posted: September 6, 2011 - 12:05am
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Two of Arrow Refuse's garbage collectors give the "thumbs up" sign for working on Labor Day.  Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Two of Arrow Refuse's garbage collectors give the "thumbs up" sign for working on Labor Day.

While many treasure the three-day break leading into Fall called Labor Day weekend, there are a hearty group of workers that brave the alarm clock’s call and venture forth into the Monday grind of time cards, cash registers or public service.

“They called us in,” Shadow O’Neal said as he maneuvered his Arrow Refuse garbage truck along the dew-laden streets of downtown Juneau on Labor Day morning. “The only days we get off are Thanksgiving and Christmas off, and we still have to make up for them. If not, there would be way too much garbage. But we don’t mind we love what we do.”

His truck crew jumped and ran and toted and pushed and scrambled and lifted a variety of containers full of refuse from many homes and businesses.

At Silverbow Bakery, one of the few downtown eateries open at the cloud-break of dawn, employees manned the front line like brave soldiers facing an onslaught of ravenous food critics.

“People like their bagels,” Manager Kelly Organ said. “I think we are one of the only places open downtown. And we like making them. And we don’t mind the morning banter at all.”

To wash down bagels, Subway, and other assorted nourishments in the morning many capital city residents like coffee.

“I work every day,” Starbucks barista Cameron Shand said. “And people definitely need coffee.”

Capital Brew’s Lacey Godkin and Maria Newman stated people needed caffeine.

Major grocery stores had their doors open and shopping carts were busy in the aisles.

“We stay open because people shop,” Safeway assistant manager Paul Denton said. “It is just a convenience for our customers.”

While the Alaska State Museum and local libraries were closed, the city museum and visitor centers were open.

“There are visitors that are here now and we have four ships coming in today,” Juneau Convention and Visitor Bureau visitor information specialist Joan Brown said standing inside a large kiosk near the downtown library.

“People need to know what is open today. And it is not pouring and is not windy so it is a good day.”

Augustus Brown Pool and Treadwell Ice Arena were closed while Dimond Park Aquatic Center and The Alaska Club had guests eager to workout indoors.

The Capital Transit public bus system was not operating but Glacier Shuttle, City & Glacier Tours and Hop On-Hop Off Trolley were on the move.

Banks were closed but ATM’s were in operation.

Four cruise ships came to harbor, three tied to the dock and one at anchor, and some businesses opened doors after church and tourists sampled everything from chocolate at the Alaska Fudge Company to bear-viewing at Mendenhall Glacier.

Juneau International Airport, Bartlett Regional Hospital, Capital City Fire and Rescue and the Juneau Police Department were all operational.

“There are always firefighters on duty,” CCFR division chief of career staff Brian Long said. “Career staff on a typical duty day include no less than four at Juneau Fire Station and no less than five at Glacier Fire Station.”

There were also volunteer staff, live-ins that serve duty rotations at the various stations in Douglas, Lynn Canal and Auke Bay as they go about their daily lives of work and school.

“We don’t lock them down full-time,” Long said. “But they do have to be available to the citizens and be ready to respond and they do have full duty shifts. And there is also the volunteers at home who are not on duty but will be ready to go if needed.”

And while the workers did their part on Labor Day, laborers relaxed at their annual Sandy Beach picnic.

“My dad is in there,” young Corban Munce said as he grasped a foot-long hot dog and pointed to a throng of various union employees and their families. “He is eating a hot dog.”

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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