St. Joseph County today picked up where it left off some eight years ago. It brought back a county sponsored leaf pickup program.
“The air is a lot clearer, I noticed it last night, I was coming in from out of town and had to drive through Elkhart County and even with the windows rolled up you could sense the smoke and what not and I was on pins and needles as to what I was going to encounter when I came into St. Joseph County and low and behold, the air was clear,” said St. Joseph County Councilman Michael Hamann, (D) District A.
This time, St. Joseph County’s curbside pickup program comes hand in hand with a partial ban on leaf burning.
“It’s if you’re within 200 feet of a residence, that’s what we’re concerned about,” said Hamann. “We’re mostly concerned about areas of density you know we don’t want people burning in subdivisions but if you’re way out in the boonies you’re out there and you’re farming you got stuff to burn isolated from other folks, you know, that’s okay.”
Today, the county’s hired contractor, Green World, apparently started picking up leaves in the southernmost townships.
It has already been decided that the trucks will make a total of two passes through the county. The first pass started today. The second pass is slated to begin on November 20th. “Right now, they're not supposed to burn and the sheriff's guys have been out there they've been talking to folks and trying to educate them and let them know you got to wait, you got to wait till you do that,” said Councilman Hamann.
There will eventually be a brief time this fall and next spring during which all residents will be allowed to burn. It will be a one week long designated period that has yet to be determined, but it will only come as a last resort—after residents have been given two chances to get rid of their leaves through the curbside program. The hope is, by that time, there will be little left to burn.
Not everyone is willing to wait for the county hired trucks to come by. A crew from Emerald Forest was working in Clay Township today.
Although business is apparently down since the county resumed offering leaf collection—the consensus is that the air is generally cleaner.
“I think it's a good idea personally, I mean I know there's a lot of people who have an issue with trying to dispose of their leaves, and it's a nuisance to some people maybe but I tell you in the long term it's better for the county, It's better for the people, and it’s better for the environment,” said independent landscaper Mark Osborne.