Sanitation supervisor, employee sift through truckload of rubbish to recover diamond ring
At the Floral Park board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, March 21, Mayor Thomas Tweedy heralded the “outstanding effort” of two Department of Public Works employees in aiding a Floral Park resident. On the morning of Friday, March 2, the distraught resident, who requested anonymity, awoke to find her diamond wedding ring was missing. She back-tracked her steps and deduced that the ring, which was loose, must have slipped off into a Chinese food carton the previous night. That’s when her long, tedious morning began.
Realizing that the sanitation department had already picked up her trash, she called Village Hall, which in turn put her in touch with the Department of Public Works (DPW). DPW office manager Judy Yandoli acted quickly to contact Sanitation Supervisor Kevin Ginnane via radio to alert him of the situation. Ginnane immediately set a plan in action.
The DPW operates a fleet of six trucks, and Ginnane radioed the driver of the truck that covers the Southside route, along which the woman resides. Motor equipment operator Joseph Karam was just finishing up that section of town when he received the call from Ginnane. Upon Ginnane’s request, Karam drove the truck to the Mayflower Yard, a village-owned transfer station on South Tyson Avenue, where he slowly dumped the refuse he had collected that morning. Ginnane instructed Karam to slowly move the truck forward as he lifted the hatch, allowing the garbage to be spread in a long, shallow pile.
After dumping the load, Karam finished up his route and then arranged for a colleague to drive his truck to Covanta, the waste-to-energy plant in Westbury where all Floral Park sanitation trucks deposit their garbage. Karam proceeded to volunteer to sift through the garbage in Mayflower Yard. Once Ginnane’s entire fleet was en route to Covanta, he, Karam and the woman who lost her ring donned gloves and began the task at hand.
Asked whether he thought they would find the ring, Ginnane replied, “I did not think we were going to find it. I really didn’t, but at least I could tell this woman we tried.” Undeterred by his doubts, however, he rolled up his sleeves and got started, first by using a payloader to spread out the garbage as much as possible. The woman indicated she threw away her garbage in a small, supermarket-type plastic bag, which enabled the trio to bypass all of the bigger trash bags.
Ginnane picked up clues along the way. Being familiar with the order in which Karam does the Southside route, Ginnane said he was able to decipher roughly where on the truck the garbage picked up from the woman’s block would be. Then he recognized the bags used by Floral Park Bellerose School, which immediately precedes the woman’s block along Karam’s route. “When I saw where the Floral Park Bellerose School bags were, that’s when I know we were close,” Ginnane said.
After going through the piles for an hour and a half, the woman’s fortune changed. She recognized her garbage bag, opened it up and pulled her ring out of a Chinese food carton.
“I can’t believe it!” Ginnane recalled her yelling. “Oh man, she was pretty happy … She really just thanked us up and down. You could see on her face how happy she was. It just really made her day,” Ginnane said.
Ginnane credits Karam’s efforts and the woman’s determination in finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. “She was very, very determined, and her determination certainly made a big difference,” he said.
Alternately, Mayor Tweedy applauded Ginnane and Karam. “If it had not been for their compassion and skilled response, a diamond wedding ring would have been lost forever,” Tweedy said, acknowledging them as “outstanding village employees.” Ginnane started with the DPW in March 2001, and Karam has been with the department since April 1996.
“We’re just doing our job,” said Ginnane. “That’s what we’re here to do as civil servants, just help out the residents, you know.”