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People line up for free junk dumping day

As many people in Oak Harbor have found out, open garbage can lids mean the automated garbage pickup won
As many people in Oak Harbor have found out, open garbage can lids mean the automated garbage pickup won't pick them up. While some Oak Harbor city customers contend their can lids had only slim gaps, the city's position is: Closed means closed.
— image credit: submitted photo

A total of 572 cars and trucks loaded to capacity with old mattresses, leopard-print couches, bed knobs and even broomsticks converged in long lines for the Oak Harbor free clean-up day Saturday.

City Public Works Operation Manager Bob Jarski said residents dropped off “52 tons and counting” of yard waste, broken-down washing machines, exercise equipment, barbecue grills and other junk. He said he still has two 40-yard dumpsters of refuse to weigh.

Residents dumped about 100 yards of metal waste that will be transported to Skagit Steel and Recycling, where it will be recycled into new junk.

Jarski said this year’s clean-up day tonnage was “comparable or more than” previous years. The annual day of free dumping was originally cancelled, but then brought back to life by city council members. In contrast to previous years, residents had to show their utility bill to prove they live in the city.

The council members argued that the chance to dump larger pieces of junk — like hub caps, wheel chairs, bags of old clothes — was important to improve the look of the city and reduce the problem with rats.

It was obviously a popular program with many residents, who sat in vehicles lined up for a couple of blocks in front of the public works building.

Oak Harbor resident Fred Winder, for example, said people need a way to unload the “kind of junk that just naturally accumulates.” He said the clean-up day was “a good deal.”

Next to him, a family was hauling stuff from a flat-bed truck piled high with a giant old TV set, broken axes, tree branches, a bird bath, a plastic briefcase, an oven door, garbage cans and on and on.

Yet there were a few things even the city wouldn’t take, though some people managed to sneak some banned propane tanks and tires into the dumpsters.

Oak Harbor resident Marshal McBride, accompanied by his son and a dog, dropped off old bicycles, a vacuum cleaner and some yard waste. He said they wouldn’t take his large chunks of cement.

“They said I’ll have to bury them in the back yard,” he explained.

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