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Clean sweep: Tons of trash cleared as part of city effort

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By Brent Schanding

Jay Cunningham and Bill Moore dug through piles of old tires, twisted tree limbs and half-empty cans of paint behind the city's Public Works Department Monday.

The maintenance workers wrestled with a couch that had been sitting on a ratty-looking teddy bear. Its button-eyes were missing and grease stains tainted what had once been a plush, furry coat.

A few random scraps of metal and some other discarded junk items lingered in the lot. It was all that remained from the city's five-day fall clean up drive, Oct. 29 - Nov. 2. Most of the debris had already made its way to an Indiana landfill, city workers said. The rest will likely follow.

Moore estimated that the city's seven-member clean up crew collected about 50 tons of junk, including tires, appliances and old furniture during last week's efforts.

"We picked up about everything," Moore said. "We had an old swimming pool that was terrible."

Twice a year, the city allows residents to discard oversized items, and properly dispose of toxic materials like paint, drain cleaner and gasoline, which are normally rejected during weekly curbside garbage pickups.

During the clean up, city maintenance crews also work to clear the streets of limbs, sticks, leaves and other debris.

"It makes the city look nice," Cunningham said.

Cunningham said workers chipped nearly 24 tons of mulch this year from limbs and leaves. A 15-foot mulch mound remained Monday behind the city's Public Works Department building, just off Kentucky Street. It was a shrine to the department's hard work.

"We put it to use," Cunningham said. "Some of the mulch goes to Clear Creek Park. It'll be used in landscaping."

While workers are glad clean up week is over, they will not be getting a rest.

In addition to garbage collection, the city Public Works Department provides a number of other services including, snow removal, pothole repairs and storm drain cleaning. The department is also responsible for mowing mini-parks and city lots during the summer.

The next city-wide clean up is planned for spring 2008.