It happens every autumn. The days grow shorter. Cooler air takes hold. Trees turn wondrous colors.
And Greencastle Street Department thoughts turn to leaves.
The annual battle is about to commence. City Public Works Director Brad Phillips told the City Council Tuesday night that the month-long leaf collection efforts will begin Monday, Oct. 24 and continue through Wednesday, Nov. 23.
The simple rules of Greencastle leaf pick-up include:
-- Collection schedule will follow city trash routes as closely as possible. So if your trash is picked up on Monday, the leaf vac will probably get your leaves that day too (unless the effort gets behind because of mass quantities of leaves or inclement weather).
-- No bags are to be used; leaves should be raked to the curbside or edge of the yard if there is no curb (but never into the street where they can wash into the storm sewers).
-- Do not mix any trash or limbs in with leaves (trash or tree limbs can damage the equipment and put the leaf vac out of commission).
-- Also, burning leaves is not permissible in the City of Greencastle.
The unusually dry weather this year has brought the leaves down faster than normal, Phillips said, so the Street Department will begin its collection rounds a little earlier than usual.
Phillips can't afford to let the leaf effort run any longer than the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving because winter fast approaches and city trucks need to be fitted for snowplows and salt spreaders.
The past three years the first call-out for snow removal came the first week of December, specifically, Dec. 1, Dec. 7 and again Dec. 1. So Phillips wants to spend the week after Thanksgiving getting ready to roll for snow removal.
The two big trucks the department employs for snow removal are the same trucks used to pull the city leaf vacuums through the neighborhoods.
Councilor Phyllis Rokicki said she wished the leaf collection program could run longer than a month, but she understands the lack of equipment prevents that from happening currently.
Besides a lack of equipment, it is also the expense of manpower, time and gasoline that curtails the effort.
"Last year it cost us just under $30,000 to do one month of leaf pick-up," Mayor Sue Murray reminded the City Council Tuesday night.
Councilman Mark Hammer urged residents to take note of the cut-off date so they don't plan to spend the Thanksgiving weekend raking leaves that will then not be picked up by the city.
For those homeowners who like to stay ahead of the leaves, city officials noted that small amounts of leaves and small branches can be included in city trash containers (but not the recycling bins) and disposed of on a weekly basis.