People have pick of items left at curb for annual pickup by city

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Piles of discarded items were available for scrutiny Sunday after residents left them curbside for the annual city of Grand Junction spring cleanup, which begins today. These piles were along Orchard Avenue.



You can tell what the drivers are up to by the way the cars and trucks creep through neighborhoods. It’s a giveaway when the brake lights flash on and off all along the block and a head peeks out to scan the piles left by the curb.

In north Grand Junction, on the eve of the annual city spring cleanup, at least a few treasure hunters planned to make good on what others throw away. The city’s free trash-hauling program is a good way to rid homes of garbage, but the locals may be the best recyclers.

“Vacuums or carpet shampooers,” said one man about the kinds of things he finds while looking through piles Sunday night. The man didn’t want to be identified.

“A lot of time they just need a belt or a bag, and people don’t know what to do so they just throw them away,” he said. “We’re environmentalists. I’d rather fix stuff than throw it away.”

As the sun set Sunday, Chris Citko was out happily scouring the piles along Walnut Avenue. She usually makes a point to collect items every year. Some of the most prized items she has seen in years past were an expensive watch and a sterling silver necklace.

“It was sad,” she said. “It was like somebody just threw out somebody’s jewelry box.”

But not all treasure hunting is that glamorous. Citko screws up her face in disgust, recounting how she once uncovered an item that was infested with cockroaches.

For the most part, Citko said, the “richer neighbors,” such as on the Redlands or north of St. Mary’s Hospital, tended to leave the nicer finds. It was on the Redlands one year where she found a purple love seat, “not a scratch, nothing on it,” she said. She’s also found kiddie pools and children’s toys all in good condition. Just minutes into the hunt early Sunday evening, she had found lace curtains and a baby blue lamp shade, also in good condition.

Citko said she cleans up the items, fixes them if needed and sells the items to a resale store. She enjoys earning the extra money.

“I like doing this. It’s fun,” she said.

“We’ll fill this truck up tonight,” she said, pointing to the bed of a Subaru Brat.

On Cannell Avenue, near Mesa State College, three bicycle riders were hauling aluminium siding and other goods with a bike trailer.

The trailer, which was designed to hold a child, was one of the best treasures found during spring cleanup last year, said Angie Pollock.

With aluminum selling for 70 cents a pound at Van Gundy’s, the stack would fetch enough for laundry money, she said.

“People throw out all sorts of random things,” she said.

Sure enough, the bike riders had found an air mattress, several pots, a paper shredder that they hoped to dismantle and recycle for cash and three camping chairs.

“There’s nothing wrong with them,” Pollock exclaimed of the chairs.

Crews are expected to begin hauling away trash piles today in areas of the city north of North Avenue.


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