Natchez garbage manager enjoys getting dirty

Published 12:47 am Monday, October 15, 2007

NATCHEZ — He might have been relaxing and watching football in his home on Lindberg Avenue Saturday, but Jim Funderburg has a very important job during the week.

He makes sure your trash goes where it belongs.

The manager of Waste Management, which handles the city’s disposal contract, Funderburg has made waste his business for the last 10 years.

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“It’s a very strange job at times,” he said. “One morning I can be talking to a mayor or city official at 10 a.m. and then 10 minutes later I have some lady hysterical on the phone telling me she has accidentally thrown away her wedding ring.”

The wedding ring incident actually does happen, he said, and Funderburg has found the rings about a half dozen times, he said.

“We pretty much know where each truck goes,” he said. “We’ll stop what we’re doing and find the bag the rings are supposedly in and look for them.”

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Louisiana and Mississippi coast, Funderburg went to New Orleans with his company to begin the cleanup.

“A whole lot of people stayed there,” he said. “With no power, all of the stuff in the house was going into the streets.”

After the Federal Emergency Management Agency kept commandeering the hotels that his company rented for the cleanup, Funderburg said they came up with a simple solution.

“We built a camp, like a military camp,” he said. “For a while I was living in my truck and office.”

And while he wouldn’t talk about the things he found in the aftermath of the floods, Funderburg said it made an impression on him.

“It was terrible digging through the piles,” he said.

But even though his post-Katrina experience was fraught with strange waste and catching flack from politicians, Funderburg said he enjoys his work.

“It can be stressful at times, but it’s a fun job,” he said.