Archive for Wednesday, July 1, 1992


July 1, 1992


At first glance, it appears to be similar to most of the commercial garages around town several bays, each with a vehicle needing some type of repair.

But then you see the size and the variety of the vehicles.

In one bay sits a 40,000-pound yellow sanitation truck. Another contains a newly-painted blue tractor. In still another bay several mechanics strip parts off the remains of a totaled white police car.

And out in the parking lot there is a collection of backhoes, ditchers and even a few sparkling white police cars.

Welcome to the Lawrence City Garage, 1141 Haskell.

It's the place the city's 352 vehicles, ranging from mowing tractors to street cleaners, are brought in for repair and regular maintenance.

To locate the heart of the operation, you must climb up the wooden stairs to the second floor of the garage. That's where you'll find Leonard Monroe, who has been the city's maintenance garage supervisor for nearly 16 years.

SITTING IN an office decorated with photographs and memorabilia from his 23 years in the Air Force, Monroe says the maintenance operation has grown considerably since the city hired him to open it in September 1976.

The garage now has 18 employees, which includes a quality control inspector, two people who keep computerized records on every repair made to every city vehicle, and 10 versatile mechanics.

Monroe has high praise for the mechanics.

While many auto mechanics working in garages around town tend to specialize on a particular manufacturer's cars or trucks, the city garage's mechanics must work on all makes and models the city buys.

"These guys may have to work on a Chevy on this job, a Ford the next job or a sanitation truck the next job, a police car or a fire truck," Monroe said. "I think they're really, really sharp for being able to do something like that. They don't have the privilege of working on the same piece of equipment every day. They could be working on a police car this job or a backhoe the next job. That's why I'm real proud of this crew."

THE GARAGE also has special equipment designed for the large vehicles, such as a hydraulic lift to put a 40,000-pound sanitation truck in the air to service it.

"The only thing we can't put in the air is a ladder truck," he said, referring to the city fire department's largest vehicle. The garage did work on a ladder truck that sustained bumper damage in an accident June 4 at 23rd and Iowa streets.

During the month of May and June, the city garage saw a lot of activity in the way of damaged police cars, he said.

On May 4, a police car was rear-ended at 23rd and Haskell. On May 13, a police car was totaled after it crashed into the corner of a church at 10th and Vermont. On June 10, a third police car was totaled after crashing into a telephone pole in North Lawrence.

"They were all new ones," Monroe said. "If we didn't have bad luck, we would have no luck at all. It seems like it happens all at once and then it doesn't happen again for a long, long time."

BESIDES working on police cars, on Tuesday the garage was getting a new green and white sanitation truck ready to be used for recycling yard waste around town, he said.

The garage is also a place where people can bring used motor oil for recycling.

Monroe said the garage accepts the oil anytime during normal working hours, which run 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The city garage built two mobile oil carts, which are used on the weekends at Centennial Park and at the North Lawrence Union Pacific train depot for collection of motor oil to be recycled.

The garage also has installed new equipment that allows it to recapture freon when the mechanics repair air conditioning systems.

The garage also has a parts shop, similar to a small auto-supply store, where a variety of parts are kept in stock for regular maintenance and repairs, he said.

"I am real proud of my mechanics. They've got to be real versatile in order to do the job," he said. "I feel we're all a part of a big team."

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