Turning brush into chips

Published 7:38 pm Thursday, August 9, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – A simple phone call is all it takes to make your brush disappear.
This is the message Neil Coulston, Public Works Director for the City of Niles, is trying to get out to residents who are throwing their brush and trash by the streets.
"We are encountering a problem with people that place brush by the curb and don't call us to let us know," Coulston said.
Some residents may think that by placing brush by the streets, the city will automatically pick it up, but this is not the case.
"This has resulted in numerous piles around town with tall weeds growing up in them. Two weeks ago, after seeing the same piles at the curb for up to two months, I instructed the Street Department to collect brush on every street in the city, whether it was on the list or not. Obviously, this is very expensive and we cannot continue to run the program this way," Coulston said.
Which is why residents should make one phone call to the Department of Public Works at 683-4700 ext. 208 and ask to be placed on the next brush chipping list. Coulston stated that if you receive a voice mail message, leave your name, address and phone number and request that you be placed on the list.
"The brush chipping program is one of the most used, if not the most popular programs offered by the City of Niles. Most citizens follow the rules and love the program,' Coulston said.
He added that with continued reductions in the number of Street Department employees over the past few years, it has become even more crucial for citizens to understand and follow the rules.
Another problem Coulston said is that residents are mixing trash with their brush, which means crews have to sift through the trash to get to the brush.
"Crews are finding wire, metal, wood, dirt and other items mixed with the brush. Not only does this slow the process down, but it also damages the equipment if it goes into the chipper unnoticed. The crews will not sift through a pile if they notice that items other than brush are in the pile," Coulston explained.
This means is very important that residents don't mix trash with their brush piles.
Coulston reminded residents that there is a one truck load (bulk material) maximum allowed per address. Because there are so many citizens that sign up and some brush piles can be very large, it normally takes several days to complete each list.
It is also recommended that brush be placed at the edge of the road just prior to the scheduled start date to avoid piles sitting for longer periods of time than necessary.
"Please be patient with the program. As long as you are on the list and have abided by the rules, your items will be picked up. If you are on the list, but your limbs or brush is not picked up on the first day of the pickup, please do not become upset or concerned. Keep in mind that this program is extremely popular, with the pickup list many times surpassing 100 locations," Coulston added.
A complete list of rules, which is published in the City Newsletter, is available in the Department of Public Works section of the City of Niles website, www.ci.niles.mi.us