SIKESTON - As beautiful as fall foliage is, dealing with the seemingly never-ending supply of falling leaves in Sikeston is an annual chore.
While some residents opt to mulch or compost their leaves, city officials predicted the majority of Sikeston's residents will be happy to take advantage of the City Leaf Collection Program scheduled to begin Nov. 18.
Sikeston's leaf collection program was made possible with the purchase of two mobile "leaf-sucking" machines at the suggestion of Councilman Phil Boyer. "Last year was the first year we had them so this is the second season for the leaf collection program," said Tom Bridger, public works director. "Last year's season went pretty well. There were a few quirks that had to be worked out."
An extra obstacle to this year's program came up in July when one of the two machines was damaged during a fire at the Public Works Complex. Repairs on the unit should have it ready for service in the next couple of weeks, according to Trey Hardy, street superintendent.
As they did last year, crews will warm up on a few practice areas before the actual collection periods begin. Sikeston's Department of Public Works will then send the two machines along with three-man crews to each of the city's eight collection districts.
City crews will spend five days in each district with separate collection units working on north-south and on east-west streets. Each district will be visited twice during the collection season which runs until March. "Crews last year did a great job of staying on schedule," Bridger said.
This year crews anticipate exceeding the nearly 6,000 cubic yards of leaves collected last year, according to Bridger. "That's the equivalent to covering a football field in approximately three and a half feet of leaves."
Residents who wish to take advantage of the leaf collection program should put their leaves alongside and behind their street's curb during their district's collection period. "Most of them did real good last year," said Bridger of residents' participation.
If a resident has obstacles within the collection area such as trees or bushes overhanging the street, lighting, or mailboxes, the leaves should be placed in the nearest open area along the curb. "Definitely not in the street and definitely not in the curb," said Bridger, explaining the leaves block the gutters and interfere with storm water runoff. "It can cause flooding in our streets."
Residents are asked not to park vehicles on the street when leaf collection crews are working in their district as it creates areas where the collection rigs can't reach. Leaf collection crews will work from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Also, no limbs or trash are to be mixed with the leaves. The city's compost site will be open during regularly scheduled compost hours from 8 a.m. until noon on Nov. 2 and 16 and again on Dec. 7 and 21 to receive these larger items.
The 2002-2003 Leaf Collection Schedule is as follows:
* District 1 - Nov. 18-22 and Jan. 13-18: South of Malone Avenue and west of the Burlington-Northern Railroad tracks to the southern and western city limits.
* District 2 - Nov. 25-30 and Jan. 20-24: East of the Burlington-Northern Railroad tracks, west of South Main and south of Malone to the southern city limits.
* District 3 - Dec. 2-7 and Jan. 27-Feb. 1: East of South Main, west of South Ingram and south of Malone to the southern city limits.
* District 4 - Dec. 9-13 and Feb. 3-8: East of South Ingram, south of Malone to the southern and eastern city limits.
* District 5 - Dec. 16-21 and Feb. 10-15: North of Malone and west of the Burlington-Northern Railroad tracks to northern and western city limits.
* District 6 - Dec. 23-28 and Feb. 17-22: East of Burlington-Northern Railroad tracks, west of North Kingshighway, and north of Malone to northern city limits.
* District 7 - Dec. 30-Jan. 3 and Feb. 24-March 1: East of North Kingshighway, west of Main and north of Malone.
* District 8 - Jan. 6-11 and March 3-8: East of North Main, and north of Malone to the northern and eastern city limits.
For more information on the leaf collection program, visit www.sikeston.org or call the Department of Public Works at 471-2174.