In addition to collecting regular refuse and recycling, the Town of Vinton Public Works Department offers its citizens bulk and brush collection.
Refuse which cannot be collected in the regular load-packer truck, such as brush, tree limbs, furniture, and some appliances, is considered to be bulk refuse and is picked up at curbside, or at the edge of the pavement on the same schedule as regular refuse pick-up.
A special “knuckleboom” truck, also known as the “claw truck,” operated by Public Works employee Barry Custer provides this premium service to Vinton residents.
Custer has been the truck operator since the equipment was purchased some 13 years ago, although he worked on bulk/brush pick-up even before there was a claw truck available, back in the day when two men loaded the items by hand or with a backhoe onto a dump truck.
Custer says that he has picked up a wide variety of items over the years, including several pianos. The truck limit is 2,500 pounds.
He and Public Works Director Joey Hiner say that citizens can take several steps to assist Vinton in continuing to provide this special service.
Best practices for residents placing brush for pick-up includes making several neat piles of debris, being aware of impeding the claw truck operation under power lines, poles, or trees, near fences, mailboxes, or vehicles, or too close to adjoining property. Public Works asks citizens to be more aware of their surroundings when placing bulk/brush debris out for disposal.
The bulk/brush truck is not able to pick up in alleyways because of the size and maneuverability of the vehicle. The boom is 12 feet in height.
Tree limbs should be cut less than six feet in length and neatly stacked. Grass clippings and leaves should be bagged– other than during leaf collection times of year in November and December when they can be placed loose at the curb or edge of the pavement. (Check the leaf collection schedule on the town website at www.vintonva.gov.)
Vinton residents should be cognizant of the fact that disposal of freezers, refrigerators, and similar containers pose a safety hazard and follow town codes about door and hinge removal when placing them out for pick up.
Bulk and brush pick-up does NOT include tree stumps, tree trunks over two feet in diameter or six feet in length, root balls, treated or painted wood, dead animals, automobile or motorcycle parts, or machinery. It does not include materials from construction, remodeling, or demolition including lumber, concrete, asphalt, fencing, roofing materials, plaster, drywall, piping, or similar items.
These materials may be disposed of by residents at the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority (RVRA) at 1020 Hollins Road.
Contractors who perform work on property are responsible for removing waste and legally disposing of it. The materials may not be left for bulk/brush pick-up by the town. This includes both remodeling and tree cutting which have been contracted by private companies.
No hazardous waste is collected by the bulk/brush operator. These may be disposed of at the RVRA.
When the amount of bulk refuse exceeds five full-size pick-up loads, a $50 fee is charged by the town. An additional $15 is added for each load in excess of five.
A hang-tag notification is left on the door of residents who are being charged a fee informing them that “the quantity of bulk refuse you placed out for pick-up exceeds that quantity that will be disposed of at no charge to you,” and records the fee due.
Fees may be paid in the Treasurer’s Office in advance of the bulk pick-up. Citizens can avoid fees by placing bulk refuse out in smaller quantities over a period of two to three weeks.
Custer says mixed loads are the biggest problem he encounters with bulk/brush pick-up. Almost all materials go to the RVRA. Often, he is selective in what is picked up at one time. There are different charges at the RVRA for brush and mixed debris loads. Brush is cheaper to dispose of for the town than municipal waste, so it is more efficient and cost effective to separate the loads.
Another challenge for collection is when leaves and grass are mixed in with regular trash. Citizens can assist in collection of debris by keeping yard debris neatly separate from regular trash. The regular refuse collection truck does not collect leaves and grass.
Sometimes Custer is not able to pick up all the bulk and brush debris in one load and must return more than once to complete the removal, and receives calls from residents asking why some debris was left behind.
Custer asks that citizens be patient when it comes to bulk/brush collection. With the aging of the knuckleboom truck, there are occasional breakdowns and repairs that put collection behind schedule. In fact, some citizens who are at work when bulk/brush collections are made, are not even aware that there are separate trucks for the two services.
Citizens may take up to a three-quarter-ton pick-up size load of brush and bulk materials themselves to the RVRA at no charge for up to 12 trips per year.
Brush is ground into free mulch at the RVRA which citizens may pick-up at no charge for a load that fills an eight-foot bed truck.
Tires are not picked up on a weekly basis; that is a separate operation from bulk/brush collection. There are scheduled days for tire collection four times each year as noted on the Town of Vinton calendar.
Custer also takes care of the Adopt a Truck program that Vinton offers to its citizens. Residents may call Public Works at 983-0646 to schedule the parking of a dump truck at their homes at no charge for loading refuse. The truck is dropped off around 3:15 in the afternoon and picked up the next regular workday morning by 8 a.m. Prohibited items may not be placed on the truck.
Custer has worked for the Town of Vinton in Public Works for almost 15 years. He says that he enjoys the work and the people he works with so much that he has made the 30-mile drive from Bedford for all those years.