Trucks and loaders have been rumbling through the residential streets of Beatrice this week, picking up old sofas and appliances before taking them to the landfill.
Clean City Week began on Monday and runs through Wednesday, meaning residents can leave large items at the curb and city workers will load the items up and haul them away.
Though the event is meant for large, unwieldy household items, street supervisor Jason Moore said they’ve been seeing many items that were expressly forbidden by the city, meaning they’re being left on the curb.
In previous years, City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said the city would pick up anything left at the curb or not. The rules haven’t changed, he said, but the enforcement of them is more strict this time around.
Most of what’s being left behind, Moore said, is household garbage or things that could be easily hauled away by Sanitary Garbage. Then there’s the lumber and other banned items that will have to be disposed of by the resident. Moore said that by late Monday afternoon he had received 11 voicemails from residents asking why certain items hadn’t been picked up, and said most of what was left curbside were restricted or smaller items.
“Every rate payer for the city of Beatrice already pays for curbside pickup,” Moore said. “So many people are not fully utilizing what curbside pickup is.”
Small televisions, tarps, garbage bags and things of that size could easily fit into a garbage can, he said. They’re being left on the curb for Sanitary Garbage to collect with their regular trash pickup schedule.
Then there are the items neither Sanitary Garbage or the crews working during Clean City Week can haul away. Things like brush, logs, leaves, stumps, grass, garbage, tires, batteries, ashes, paint, chemicals, lumber, drywall, shingles, concrete blocks, gas cans or tanks will not be hauled away.
If a prohibited item is left on the curb by the resident and Sanitary Garbage doesn’t pick it up, Moore said, the inspections department will give the property owner or renter a notice that it has to be taken to the landfill within a certain amount of days. If they don’t comply, Moore said, the street department will issue a citation and the items will be taken to the landfill at the resident’s expense.
In hashing out the details of this year’s Clean City Week — at one point it was conceived as a coupon-based amnesty day at the landfill before going back to its original form — both the Beatrice City Council and the Board of Public Works said things had to change or this might be the end of the event. Sending crews out to pick up rejected trash is a massive job, as is chasing down residents for payment. Not picking up your own garbage is always a violation.
“The general rule the city has,” Tempelmeyer said, “regardless of if it's Clean City Week or not, if you have stuff in your yard, that's considered a nuisance, and trash is one of those things.”
Though large furniture items are picked up by the crews, mattresses are not. There’s a rollaway dumpster set up in the south parking lot of the Scott Street ballfields exclusively for mattresses. Residents must bring the mattresses to the dumpster themselves.
“I think you may see it continue,” Tempelmeyer said. “I think we'll try to amend the program, modify it here and there, learn from mistakes this year and try to do better next year.”
Moore said he did see one unusual thing this year, fewer scrappers than during previous pickups. The price per ton of steel has gone down, which means what he called “white goods” don’t have the same appeal they once did.
“I've seen lots of deep freezers, washing machines, dryers out there,” he said. “In years past, I might see one the entire week.”
Trucks and loaders have been rumbling through the residential streets of Beatrice this week, picking up old sofas and appliances before taking them to the dump.