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Mitchell's Spring Cleanup smallest in recent years

Mitchell's annual Spring Cleanup was the smallest in recent memory. Street and Sanitation Superintendent Ron Olson said 119.08 tons of material were either picked up at curbs or dropped off at the landfill. That's down markedly from 2010, when 18...

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Mattresses are piled by the curb along South Minnesota Street in Mitchell during Spring Cleanup Week. in this photo from April 19. (Chris Huber/Republic)

Mitchell's annual Spring Cleanup was the smallest in recent memory.

Street and Sanitation Superintendent Ron Olson said 119.08 tons of material were either picked up at curbs or dropped off at the landfill. That's down markedly from 2010, when 183.71 tons were collected or dropped off at the landfill.

"It dropped down quite a bit this year," Olson said Thursday. "We didn't have the best of weather. It was lousy at times."

Curb collection was conducted April 18-22, and 39.86 tons were collected. Unlike past years, when work continued most of the day, Olson said city crews completed their rounds in designated areas of the city by 11 a.m. or earlier and then worked on streets or did other jobs.

Of those 39.86 tons, 34.22 tons were immediately taken to the landfill. Another 5.64 tons of metal items were taken to the salvage yard and 14 items containing Freon -- refrigerators, air conditioners and other items -- had the Freon drained out of them before they were taken to the salvage yard. The city earned $1,544.40 for the items.

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The city landfill received 66.31 tons of large items and another 12.91 tons of trees were dropped off at the landfill, as were 14 more items with Freon.

The landfill offered expanded hours April 16-23 for a free drop-off.

The amount of revenue not collected by picking up the items or allowing them to be dropped off at the landfill for free was $3,914.40, Olson said.

The city estimated its Cleanup Week costs at $13,354.26.

All those totals were down from 2010, when 65.71 tons were picked up curbside and 32 items with Freon were put outside.

In addition, 118 tons were taken to the landfill in 2010. The city collected $2,065.50 for material sold at the salvage yard.

Olson said there has been a large reduction since the city changed the cleanup rules after the 2007 effort and restricted the kind of items that could be placed on the curb.

Olson said something had to be done, or the city needed to allow him to hire contractors or spend money on overtime.

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"Oh, it had gotten to be a nightmare operations-wise to try to get it done," he said.

People were bringing "anything and everything" to the curb, he said, and that created another issue.

People were going through the discarded items and often scattering them around, leaving city workers with a real mess to pick up, Olson said.

Add in a wet year, and it was a soggy job, he said, as items "turned to mush."

In 2007, the city picked up 444.51 tons curbside and another 70.65 tons were taken to the landfill, making a total of 515.16 tons that ended up at the landfill.

After the rules changed, people started taking more things to the landfill. That increased from 70.65 tons in 2007 to 187.51 in 2008 and 166.41 in 2009.

Last year, when 118 tons were brought to the landfill, indicated a decline that continued this year.

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