City: Spring cleanup a success |

City: Spring cleanup a success

Ryan Hoffman
Rifle Operations and Maintenance employee Tyler Laroque lifts a large bundle of tree limbs into the bucket of a backhoe on Buckeye Court in east Rifle Wednesday, April 27. Rifle’s spring cleanup will resume May 2-5, covering residences west of Railroad Avenue and Highway 13, as well as those south of Interstate 70. Rifle Public Works Superintendent Bobby O'Dell reminds residents to separate metals and acceptable appliances from other garbage to reduce the number of trips for city staff. He also asks that residents consolidate piles as much as possible.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

Time and increased awareness appear to have contributed to another successful spring cleanup in Rifle, despite a significant jump in the amount of trash collected.

City officials stated the two-week event that concluded in early May went off without any significant issues.

“We definitely have got the system down pretty well to where it’s not that big of ans issue,” said Bobby O’Dell, public works superintendent. “If we didn’t have it figured out through years of doing (the cleanup), it might be an issue.”

The “it” O’Dell referred to was a substantial increase in the amount of trash collected.

Some receipts for recyclable items are still pending, but initial numbers show the city disposed of approximately 356,225 pounds of trash. That number is up from the approximately 314,000 pounds of waste disposed of in 2015.

While it did make it more taxing for employees in the city’s operations and maintenance department and parks department, chemistry among the employees continues to improve each year, O’Dell said.

Additionally, there was a noticeable improvement with regards to residents abiding by the cleanup rules, said Sara Flores, Rife community services and code enforcement officer.

“As far as code enforcement’s point of view it went a lot better,” she said.

Approximately 20 TVs — an item that is not allowed — were put out this year, which was down from about 35 in 2015. Aside from several cans of paint, residents largely refrained from attempting to dispose of unallowed liquids.

Perhaps most importantly, Flores said, residents did a much better job of not putting out trash piles more than 72 hours before the scheduled start of the cleanup each week.

“(Residents) did a lot better … there was maybe only two piles that I saw that were put out too early,” Flores said. “And it ended up being very important because we got some strong winds in the days leading up to the cleanup.”

However, there remain some room for improvement.

In particular, O’Dell said separating scrap metal from the rest of the trash would go a long way to making the cleanup even more efficient. The problem, explained O’Dell, is that crews come by in two stages. The firs removes scrap metal and the second loads up the rest of the debris. There were instances where the second crew started hauling away garbage and discovered additional scrap metal underneath the trash, which resulted in an additional trip from the first crew.

“It causes a little bit of a headache,” O’Dell said of the co-mingling of trash and scrap metal.

Improved bundling of debris such as tree branches also would improve the cleanup, he added.

Flores could not say for certain why the cleanup continues to improve, but she said residents’ adherence of the rules could be an indication that general awareness continues to improve overtime.

Among the more peculiar trends noticed during the 2016 cleanup was a rise in the amount of alcohol disposed of, according to O’Dell.

In the past there might have been a random six pack of beer, but this year there were entire cases of beer and coolers filled with alcohol. That was an issue, O’Dell said, because the city uses inmate work crews.

Luckily there were no issues this year, but O’Dell asked residents to avoid leaving alcohol out separate from the rest of the trash.

If people do need to get rid of old beer or other alcoholic beverages, O’Dell asked they do so in a more discrete manner, to avoid any potential issues with the inmate crews.

Flores said she was happy with how this year’s cleanup played out, but issued a reminder to city trash customers that they can dispose of many of the standard cleanup items — such as furniture and appliances — throughout the year, providing they call ahead.

The city does a special trash pickup for certain items the first four Wednesdays of the month. Information on the special trash pickup, including the monthly schedule, can be found at

Trash customers should call 970-665-6445 to schedule a special pickup no later than one day before service.

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