Cape crews preparing to vacuum up leaves

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The monthlong program begins Nov. 14 and runs through Dec. 9.

City street crews will vacuum up tons of leaves in Cape Girardeau's residential neighborhoods this fall, a monthlong chore to haul off nature's seasonal trash.

It's a huge task, particularly in older neighborhoods where leaves from mature trees blanket the yards.

Other area cities don't provide the service. Scott City doesn't pick up leaves at all. Jackson residents can bag their leaves and yard waste; city crews haul them away on the first and third weeks of every month.

Jackson said its disposal method doesn't require expensive equipment. Bagged leaves don't blow into the streets either, said city administrator Jim Roach.

"I think it is less messy," he said.

All three cities allow residents to dump leaves at city public works sites.

But vacuuming of leaves remains a long-standing tradition in Cape Girardeau. Crews pick up the leaves in six trucks equipped with large vacuum hoses. The city also picks up leaves in front-end loaders and hauls them off in regular dump trucks.

The annual removal of leaves begins Nov. 14 and runs through Dec. 9.

"We try to encourage people not to put them out too early," said public works director Tim Gramling, because leaves piled up too soon tend to blow into the street and clog up storm sewers.

City crews spend a week hauling away leaves in each of four zones, beginning in the southeast part of town. Crews will be in the northeast part of the city north of Broadway the week of Nov. 21 through Nov. 25. Leaves in the neighborhoods west of Kingshighway will be picked up the week of Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.

The city will pick up leaves in the northern sections of the city, including the residential subdivisions along Lexington Avenue, during the week of Dec. 5 through Dec. 9.

The schedule allows crews to better vacuum up piles of leaves in residential areas near Southeast Missouri State University because during Thanksgiving break fewer cars are parked on the streets.

City crews typically haul off about 1,000 tons of leaves -- or a little over 600 truckloads -- each year, Gramling said.

City crews haul the leaves to the Wilver Wessel property on Silver Springs Road. The leaves are then worked into the soil as compost.

Picking up and hauling off all those leaves costs the city more than $60,000 a year. The city council last year considered eliminating it as a cost-cutting move. But some council members objected, saying it would have forced more residents to burn leaves.

The council kept the service.

Residents, however, still can burn leaves. They also can haul leaves to the city's drop-off site on Third Street just off LaCruz Street, across from Kasten Masonry.

The drop-off site, which opened Oct. 15, will be open six days a week through Dec. 17. The hours are noon to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

Scott City's drop-off site is at the public works site at 1011 Rose Con Road. Residents can dump leaves Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Jackson's drop-off site is at its recycling center at 508 Eastview Court. It's open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

335-6611, extension 123

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