By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Havre residents can hold onto their rakes but put away their garbage bags, because on Friday the Public Works Department will begin using a new leaf vacuum truck to suck up piles of leaves right from the lawn.
"This is more like what other cities in the area have done," said public works general foreman Jim Cook, as two city workers demonstrated the new machine earlier this week. Great Falls uses a similar system, he said.
In years past, the city has dealt with the autumnal drift by trucking plastic bags of leaves to the landfill. The new truck will be help save space at the landfill, Cook said, and more importantly, will save time.
"It'll help a lot of homeowners, I believe," he said. "They won't have to take the time to bag their leaves."
The truck will also help reduce the number of leaves in the gutters, said Clarence Doney, one of the city service workers who operates the truck.
"This is supposed to help take some of the pressure off the street sweeper," he said.
Leaf piles should be put on the lawn as close to the curb as possible, Cook said, but not in the street. Cars should not be parked along the street near the piles, because the truck, which is about 26 feet long, has to be able to pull to the curb to get the piles. Piles may be covered to keep the leaves from blowing away.
The truck, a brush chipper truck that the city rebuilt to include a 15-foot rubber hose, and its crew will begin making their rounds Friday morning in the area of Montana Avenue, Pike Street and Sunset Drive, and will work east up and down each avenue between Second and 10th streets. From there they will move on to other areas of town. Cook said the schedule is not set yet because he doesn't know how fast the work will go.
Weekly schedules will be published in the About Town section of the Havre Daily News.
There will only be one pickup scheduled per area of town, but homeowners can also call the public works office at 265-4941 to request weekend collection. They should call by 4 p.m. on the Friday before they want the leaves collected.
Cook said he expects the work to be done by the middle of November. He said this year is a trial period, and next year the process will probably go smoother.
The leaves will be shredded and deposited at an old city dump site about a mile north of town, he said.