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Sign up to get old appliances hauled off

Deadline to register is March 6

POSTED: February 25, 2009 12:58 a.m.

Got a washed-up washing machine or a defunct dryer? Here’s your chance to get rid of it.

In March, Gainesville and Hall County governments will be offering their annual household appliance pickup week. Residents who sign up can have their “white goods” hauled away at no charge.

The event is limited to three items per household, in the following categories: stoves/ranges, washing machines, water heaters, refrigerators/freezers, clothes dryers and dishwashers.

The deadline to register is March 6. Each person who signs up will be given a pickup date, and they are responsible for getting the appliance out to the curb that day. For elderly or disabled residents who cannot perform that task, Keep Hall Beautiful will offer assistance.

The event creates extra work for city and county employees, but Dan Owen, superintendent of solid waste for Gainesville, said it’s worth it.

“We try to help people get rid of stuff so it doesn’t end up on the side of the road,” he said.

Gainesville residents who have city garbage service can have a large item picked up any time of year, but they have to pay for it: $12 for most appliances or $18 for those that contain Freon, such as refrigerators. To avoid this fee, many people wait for the annual free pickup week.

Residents of unincorporated Hall don’t have trash service, so normally their only option is to transport old appliances to the landfill themselves and pay a fee based on the item’s weight.

This poses a dilemma to people whose only vehicle is small passenger car.

Kem Smith, assistant public works director for Hall County, said he doesn’t mind using his department’s dump trucks and flatbed trucks for a few days to help out people in need.

“It’s just a service we provide for the citizens of Hall County,” he said.

Having no sanitation workers, Hall uses road maintenance crews and inmate labor to collect the appliances.

During last year’s event, the Hall crews stopped at about 130 households to pick up 249 items.

But Smith said demand is down. “We used to have about 300 stops,” he said. “We started getting fewer requests three years ago when we went to the ‘white goods’ policy.”

Before limiting the pickup to large appliances such as stoves and freezers, county workers used to find all kinds of stuff dumped at the curb.

“We’d get anything from car motors to car frames,” said Smith. “But people have been real cooperative (about following the new policy).”

Patsy Shubert, administrative assistant with Gainesville solid waste, said the city has also seen a drop in the number of people signing up.

“Last year we picked up 32 items,” she said. “There were 43 items in 2007, and 76 in 2006.”

Both Smith and Shubert suspect one reason for the decrease in demand is that private entrepreneurs have been going around picking up appliances from people’s homes, hoping to make a profit.

“Last year, metals were so valuable, sometimes when we got to a home to pick up an appliance, somebody had already taken it,” said Smith.

Commodity prices have plummeted in the past year as a result of the global economic slowdown. However, there are still companies interested in buying old appliances.

“We contract with three recyclers in the area, and they remove the scrap metal,” said Hall County solid waste manager Cary Lawler. “None of these appliances goes into the landfill.”



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