State grant approved for Latrobe leaf vacuum, skid loader
Latrobe’s public works crew will be turning new leaves, in a new way, next year.
The city will expand its complement of equipment to include a leaf vacuum and a skid loader, helping workers to gather up and convert into compost fallen leaves that clutter streets and cover storm drains every autumn.
Michael Gray, public works director, received confirmation the state Department of Environmental Protection has approved a $95,843 recycling grant toward purchase of the equipment, and he shared the good news Tuesday with city council.
Gray doesn’t expect to have the two new items in hand until next year — once paperwork is completed, the city orders the equipment and waits for it to be built.
“It will be the first time we’ll go around town and collect all the leaves,” Gray said. “We’ll compost and recycle them and give them back to the community.”
He explained the vacuum won’t be able to reach down into storm drains to suck up leaves that have fallen inside, but it will be able to clear away ones covering the surface — “anything that’s above-ground.”
The skid loader will be used to turn the piles of leaves collected at the city’s solid waste transfer station, promoting decomposition into compost, Gray said.
Having the dedicated equipment for the compost operation will be an improvement over a backhoe that also is used for other tasks. “Say we use it for digging,” Gray said of the backhoe. “You always have to make sure it’s clean. You don’t want to contaminate the leaves because you’re trying to promote clean compost.”
Gray said leaf compost is available at the Mission Road transfer station this season, for residents to take home to amend the soil in their gardens.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.