A Day in the Life: Ray Bell
by Courtney Warren
Dec 23, 2013 | 2452 views | 0 0 comments | 86 86 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The warehouse is surrounded by trucks labeled "Cleveland Public Works" and as men in neon yellow vests and hats walk in and out cars back up to the building to drop off recycling.

Upon walking into the building everyone is greeted by a grey cat that has made the secretary's office his home.

Recycling program bag count sheets decorate a desk in the corner and when Ray Bell, Cleveland Public Works director, walks in, the cat rushes out the door and onto its next afternoon adventure.

Bell begins his afternoon with an unexpected meeting with Jimmie Moore, municipal marketing manager for Waste Pro.

Bell directs him to the back where his office is and asks him to have a seat.

Bell and Moore make small talk and discuss garbage collection and garbage cans.

Moore gives out two small garbage can models and hand sanitizer before he heads downtown to talk to the city clerk.

A small argument breaks out amongst the employees before Bell heads out the door.

"I put out a few small fires as you see," Bell said with a smile.

After everyone has settled down, Bell gets into his white truck, which is parked right beside his office door, and heads out to a neighborhood off of Bishop Road to help one of his employees with a storm drain.

"We have to keep these storm drains clear of leaves and debris because when the next big rain comes those leaves will go straight into the drain and stop it up flooding the street. If it gets too bad then it can get into peoples yards and even flood their homes," Bell explained.

One homeowner in particular has been giving Bell trouble and raking leaves into the street rather than bagging them up for the garbage company to pick up.

After contacting the homeowner and asking them not to rake the leaves into the street because a storm drain is being clogged, Bell takes the next step and contacts the code enforcement officer for the city.

The officer will visit the home and issue a citation for a code violation but Bell's job here is done, and he climbs back into his truck to continue on his route.

As he drives through the streets his head turns left and right as he looks at the streets, curbs, yards and signs.

"I drive around and make a picture in my mind of what needs to be fixed, you know like limbs that are piled up, leaves, some trash on the sides of the street. I can go back to the office and write it down and give it to my guys," he said.

As he continued to drive through town Bell explained that currently the street sweepers are running back to back in an effort to control the amount of leaves in the streets.

"In a few weeks when the leaves are up and they've come off the trees we'll be able to go without double running," he said.

Crossing U.S. Highway 61 and back into the heart of another neighborhood, Bell kept his window rolled down and waved as he passed people walking along the sidewalks in the nice weather.

"Hey Ray!"


"Hey, man!"

Shouts of greetings were heard on both sides of the street as he drove through and a smile spread across his face as he went and waved at those he passed.

Stopping to examine a road with deep ditches on either side, Bell explained that these ditches have to be watched and cleaned out with shovels in order to ensure that the roads don't flood.

As he continued down the road Bell pointed out a grocery basket on the side of the road.

His guys collect the grocery baskets and take them to Mack Hubbell who has a group that cleans them and then returns them to their proper places.

The grocery baskets are flipped upside down on the side of the street but Bell only came across two this drive through.

With such a large area to cover, Bell has a lot to remember in order to ensure that the Public Works employees clean up the problem areas he finds on his drive.

Public Works takes care of limbs, furniture, streets, storm drains, Christmas lights, the downtown green strip, the five cemeteries, ditches, all of the red lights, and five pumping stations.

"One time we worked six hours on a light on highway 8. Most of the time it's something simple but this red light kept going out," he explained with a smile.

Bell has to go out to the light and troubleshoot or make repairs and sometimes calls the technician service for assistance.

Bell's drive continued on after he checked a storm drain to see that it needed to be cleaned out because it had become cluttered with trash and leaves and as the day wore on and the sun began to set he was able to create his list of the areas that needed attention the next day.

Many residents appreciate the beauty of Cleveland but are unaware of all of the work that goes in to keeping it that way.

With a lot of driving, a tamping out a free human fires, and a large amount of raking, Bell and his crew, as well as many others, work constantly rain or shine to ensure the beauty of the city.