By MARY ANN GREIER
SALEM - City residents can help save the environment and save city workers some time by taking advantage of a free leaf collection bag giveaway next week.
This month's water bill included a coupon good for a maximum 20 compostable leaf bags for each city household, with the distribution of those bags kicking off from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Waterworth Memorial Park, Centennial Park and Salem City Hall.
Other times when residents can pick up the bags at those three locations include: 3 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 17; 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 19; 3 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22; and 3 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23. Residents must bring their coupon to receive the bags, with the coupon stamped by volunteers at the site.
"It's the right thing to do environmentally," city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said.
He first announced the program during a city council meeting last month and it was mentioned again last week. Offered through a partnership with the CCH Environmental Group, formerly known as the Carroll Columbiana Harrison Solid Waste District, the program gives the city a more environmentally-friendly way to gather up leaves since the bags will become part of the mulch created with the leaves.
Kenst explained that in previous years, residents bagged their leaves in plastic bags. When the city workers picked them up and transported them to the property where the city dumps its leaves and brush, they had to open up the bags and remove the leaves. The plastic bags would then end up in a landfill.
The bags purchased by CCH Environmental Group will become part of nature since they're compostable.
"There's a time and cost savings to the city," Kenst said.
Walmart had already provided the city with a $2,000 donation toward the cost of the leaf bags and Lowe's in Alliance gave a deal on the cost of the leaf bags, with CCH covering the rest of the cost for the 60,000 bags.
Kenst said he's hoping there will be enough bags for a second distribution. He said residents should hang on to their coupon just in case.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to show a partnership between the city of Salem, the CCH Environmental Group and local businesses and the community", Dr. Eric Matthews, Director of Operations for the CCH Environmental Group, said in a written press release. "We are excited to work with the city and in particular, Mr. Ken Kenst and his staff. They are awesome."
Kenst offered his thanks to CCH Environmental Group for working on the project and helping to make it a reality.
"We are equally excited that Salem Key Club students, Butech employees and city leaders and officials are volunteering to help with this project. We are also grateful that Walmart and Lowe's of Alliance have stepped up and provided assistance in the acquisition of the bags", Matthews said.
According to Kenst, leaf pickup will begin in the city on Oct. 21.
He said he's hoping they'll be able to continue doing the leaf bag program in future years, especially since it's not costing the city anything.
To learn more about the CCH Environmental Group or the leaf bag collection program, check out the CCH Environmental Group on Facebook or online at www.cchenvironmental.org.