Diamond in the Rough: Hall County sanitation workers help recover wedding rings for Gainesville woman

Close up photo of ring with diamonds
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels

As the world searches for answers amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, a search on a much smaller scale proved successful recently at the Hall County Landfill.

Last week, Joan Sheffield took off her wedding rings and wrapped them in tissue paper in order to do some cleaning. The rings were later tossed in the trash by mistake.

“The city of Gainesville garbage truck had just picked up her stop when she realized what had happened,” said Hall County Solid Waste Director Johnnie Vickers.

Sheffield then called Dan Owen, Gainesville’s Solid Waste superintendent, and explained what had happened and that she could still see the truck down the street.

“Dan called the driver and stopped the truck then called me to help start the recovery,” Vickers said. “I told him to send the truck to the landfill and we would dump that load on the cement floor and help with the recovery.”

Once the truck dumped the load of trash on the tipping floor, Sheffield and solid waste crews from both the city and Hall County started going through bags looking for the diamond rings. After about 30 minutes, Sheffield spotted the rings.

“It’s a crazy time with all that’s happening right now in the world, and I’m just glad we were able to help make at least one person’s day a little better,” Vickers said. “It’s not a glamorous job, but these are the kind of moments that make it all worth it.”

This is not the first instance of valuables being recovered by the Hall County Landfill staff. In 2018, approximately $100,000 worth of jewelry was recovered by landfill staff after a citizen mistakenly threw it away.

“It seems like every Christmas, someone accidentally throws away a child’s gifts or we are sent looking for a precious keepsake during another time of year that somehow ended up in the trash,” he said. “We are happy to help, and it’s just a part of what we do.”