For the past five years, Donnie Miller has been turning people's trash into treasure during the city of Mitchell's annual spring cleanup.
That's especially true for the 35-year-old father this year, as he spotted the perfect dresser for his son Oliver on Monday night, which marked the beginning of the city's furniture and appliances cleanup period that continues through Friday.
"When I saw that dresser, it was calling my name," Miller said. "My son will love it when it's finished."
The premise of the week is simple: city residents can take furniture and appliances and place them on the curb of the street, where city of Mitchell workers will take them and dispose of them. There is no charge for the service, and residents place items on the curb the same day they normally receive garbage pickup.
But what happens between bringing items to the curb and waiting for city collection can be unpredictable. Once an item is on the curb and it's clear others can take the furniture or appliance, it can open up a literal free for all.
For Miller, he has found a new passion in reupholstering furniture, which is what he plans to do with the dresser he found during the first night of spring cleanup.
"I really enjoy turning something that's in rough shape into a nice piece of furniture," Miller said. "There is an art to upholstering furniture, and I love the process."
Although he's spent the last decade looking for furniture such as dressers, tables and chairs on spring cleanup days, the thrill of finding the perfect piece of furniture remains the same each year. Miller said his friends frequently ask to purchase the finished product that was once considered unwanted trash found in a city boulevard, but he stays true to keeping all of the reupholstered furniture from spring cleanup within his family.
"There is always a fun rush to spring cleanup, and I keep all of the furniture that I reupholster either for me or my family members," Miller said. "It has more significance knowing that it was an unwanted item that found a new home."
Shawn Holland has a different focus for his trash-to-treasure creations. He keeps his eyes peeled for scrap metal.
Holland utilizes the entire week of spring cleanup to find as much scrap metal to make remote control lawn mowers and cars.
"I've made a lot of crazy things out of the scrap metal I find during spring cleanup, but remote control lawn mowers are just fun to make," Holland said with a laugh. "I usually fare pretty well in getting good metal."
Judging by the volume of furniture and appliances he's seen sitting on boulevards throughout the first day of spring cleanup, Public Works Director Kyle Croce expects city crews to be working extra this week.
"It's looking like our city crews will be spending a significant amount of time curbside with what I've seen lately," Croce said. "We've got the time for spring cleanup scheduled and budgeted."
According to Croce, the Street and Sanitation Department will be tasked with collecting all of the unwanted furniture and appliances that spring cleaners such as Holland and Miller haven't already claimed.
"We would like people to keep it to larger pieces of furniture and appliances that they need to get rid of," Croce said.
Croce said the city will not collect items other than furniture and appliances, and emphasized placing items on the curbside boulevard, not alleyways.
"People can also dump pickup loads at the landfill at no charge-with the exception of tires, special wastes and waste from commercial vehicles," Croce said. "We have a list of items that can get recycled."
Croce said batteries and propane tanks will be accepted for recycling at the landfill office, located at 41176 E. 257th St. free of charge, while televisions, computer monitors, cell phones and other electronic items can be recycled at Dependable Sanitation, which is located at 2801 E. Havens Ave., for a fee.
"The landfill will have extended hours, so we're prepared to get the city cleaned up before summer rolls around," Croce said.