RON HARTMAN/THE CHRONICLE - Clara Polson was a longtime fixture at the transfer station serving Creswell and the surrounding area.

CRESWELL – The Lane County Waste Management site on Cloverdale Road is the place to go in the Creswell area for recycling. 

But when someone like Carla Polson decides to retire, you don’t just recycle in a replacement without losing a step.

You just hope that some way, somehow, you’ll get along OK without her. 

Because she is going to be missed. 

After working nearly 30 years as the fee collector at the Cloverdale Road site, Polson is retiring. Her last day is Saturday, April 2. 

“My husband is retired and we want to start seeing some more national parks. We haven’t seen very many,” Polson said. “We’ve got Yellowstone scheduled in and Yosemite.”

There’s no RV or camping as part of those plans, though.

“I’m a firm believer in hotels,” Polson said, smiling. “Don’t have to make the bed, don’t have to wash the linens.”

They also have a new home that they’re still fixing up to their liking.

“We just had a house built in Saginaw, so we have an entire yard that needs to be put in,” Polson said. “I’m just going to putter and enjoy sleeping in.” 

She’s earned it. 

“I’ve been planning on retiring for 25 years. Working for the county pays well but I’ve been working diligently and saving enough money to make sure I won’t ever have to work again,” Polson said. “But I won’t be one of these rich people going out and buying my Maserati after I leave.”

As much as she’s been looking forward to retirement, Polson said she will miss the dozens of relationships she made with her customers. 

“I have made a lot of friends – not the kind of friendships where we hang out – but I’ve met their children, I’ve met their grandchildren, I’ve met their parents, I know who has had dogs, several generations of dogs. 

“That’s the thing I’m going to miss the most, it’s like I’m their distant aunt who gets the Christmas card – I know what’s going on in their lives even though I’m not a part of it. So yes, I’m going to really miss that, and I’ve always maintained for 30 years that Creswell has the best customers. I’ve worked every single site and whenever I’ve been asked to transfer, I say, ‘Nope, i’m staying right here.’” 

She said when it comes to trash and recycling clientele, Creswell certainly is The Friendly City.

“I really want the people of Creswell to know how much I’ve truly appreciated working and being the county representative for waste management,” Polson said.

“Even the bad customers – I’ve had like 10 percent at some other sites – but If I’ve had 2 percent bad customers in Creswell, I would consider that high.”

Of course, that speaks to Polson’s excellent customer service, which has always been on display because her gatehouse looks more like a greenhouse with all of the plants people have given her through the years. 

“Half of the plants are at the house already,” she said. “I’ll still have to find room for the other half.”

Although Polson’s role as fee collector hasn’t changed, her job description has changed significantly. 

“We used to only assess loads and charge accordingly, but now we have to assess what kind of load they have,” Polson said. “We also have to screen loads for propane tanks, appliances and asbestos. There are several DEQ (Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality) regulations that we have to be familiar with.

“We now have to know all of these other things, and every time there’s a new environmental law there’s something new we all have to learn. Asbestos is the big one, but I’m sure there’s going to be something else over the course of time.” 

Polson said when trash is dumped in the bins, it goes directly to the mountain in Goshen. The county handles all recycling. Electronics go to NextStep Recycling, regular recycling goes to EcoSort, and metal goes to Schnitzers Steel. 

Polson said Nicole Sanford is stepping in to replace her.

“She is a wonderful person and was my first choice,” Polson said. “She can take the joking and kidding and give it right back to them, and she is tickled to death to work out here. I’m really very pleased she is going to be my replacement. 

“I’m going to miss everybody, but it’s time for me to go on to the next part of my life.”