SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- St. Joseph County's leaf pickup program will resume Friday, after the brutal winter forced service to be suspended in December.
Collections stopped before crews could make it to some areas in Clay and Harris townships, where large piles of leaves are still sitting on many curbs.
"We've had plenty of nice weather where they could have gotten out," said Clay Township resident Iva Branstetter. "They're not fixing the streets, the least they could do is pick up our leaves."
The county says heavy snow this winter buried many leaf piles. And, even after most of it is melted, the snow still caused problems for crews.
"One of the concerns that residents have is as we pick up the top of the pile that looks fluffy and dry, the bottom's still frozen," said GreenWorld owner Chris Rice. "So, we've been trying to get as much off as we can."
GreenWorld crews will be back out in neighborhoods collecting leaves starting April 18. Their priority will be neighborhoods that haven't had any pickups.
Trucks will start with the portion of Clay Township east of SR 933 and north of Cleveland Road. They'll also collect leaves in the area of Harris Township north of SR 23 at that time.
Starting May 1st, crews will focus on the remaining areas of those townships. They plan to make a second pass through all townships starting May 12.
"When I see it, I'll believe it," Branstetter said.
She and her neighbors are skeptical because they've had problems with leaf removal since the new service was implemented. They say the county needs to do a better job of communicating pickup times.
"They don't come until spring and they don't let us know when they're coming," said Susan Schmuhl, who lives down the street. "So, if we have more to put out there, we can't put them out because they've already gone by."
County leaders admit the program has had some hiccups since November, but say they can't control the weather. The Leaf Task Force is meeting regularly to discuss how the service can be improved.
"We've been at the mercy of the weather so far, which has been unfortunate," said President of the Board of Commissioners Andrew Kostielney. "I know GreenWorld has been doing a great job so far this spring, the past few days checking conditions and making pickups when they can."
Some residents have resorted to burning leaves because of the unreliable pickup. But, the county is under a burn ban. Leaf burning won't be allowed until Burn Amnesty Week, which is May 12 through May 19.
County leaders are asking residents to be patient. Anyone with questions can call the leaf program hotline at 1-877-472-2735.