Jackie Barbour, left, and Daniel Webb of Kingsport Public Works rake up leaves to be picked up by the leaf truck. Photo by Erica Yoon.
KINGSPORT — Kingsport plans to turn over a new leaf during the next three months. In fact, the city will likely turn over quite a few leaves as it begins its annual leaf collection service for the residents of the Model City.
Streets and Sanitation Manager Ronnie Hammonds said the city began its annual leaf collection service Oct. 15, which will run through Jan. 15. Residents can rake their leaves to the curb, and public works crews will come around with a truck and vacuum up the leaves for free.
“We made it through the entire city last week and started over on Monday at the west end of town, and hopefully we’ll make another pass through by Friday,” Hammonds said. “It looks like leaves are starting to fall steadily right now, so our routes will start slowing down a little bit, and we probably won’t be there once a week.”
On Tuesday the city sent out four trucks to collect the leaves, and as the leaves fall more heavily Hammonds said the city would likely send out seven trucks to perform the collection. Kingsport has one special truck for leaves and six additional trucks where crews have installed an enclosure for the beds and large vacuums — a 60 horsepower motor with a 12-inch tube.
“We work from west to east, and as the leaves get heavier sometimes it will take a day and a half or two days to make what a garbage truck does in a day’s time. So it will get to about an eight- to 10-day cycle before making it through town,” Hammonds said. “And we’ve done 15-day cycles before.”
Kingsport has established a leaf line for people to call to get the location of the truck, where it’s going to be on a given day, and where it will be the next day. The number for the leaf line is 224-2429.
Hammonds said residents should rake the leaves to the curb or within 5 feet of the street, make sure not to put them in the street, and keep the leaves free of limbs, rocks and other debris.
“Those will tear up our vacuum machines. If the machines are damaged, it makes our turnaround a lot slower,” Hammonds said, noting the cost of the vacuum is around $15,000.
Residents can also bag their leaves, and they will be picked up on the normal trash route, every two weeks. Hammonds said people can call the streets and sanitation office at 229-9451, and crews will pick them up within two to three days for no additional charge.
“We would prefer them loose, but if people take the time to bag them, if they’ll just call the office we’ll be glad to run by and get them.”
Once collected the leaves are taken to the city’s demolition landfill off Brookside Drive, to be composted and used for soil amendments and topsoil.
“We’re using some of that in a beautification project on Wilcox Drive, so we get some use out of the discarded leaves,” Hammonds said.