Archive for Sunday, July 29, 2001

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July 29, 2001


It's not quite Christmas in July, but for some Lawrence residents, it's close.

Many of the nearly 12,000 Kansas University students who live in rental units off-campus see their apartment and room leases expire Tuesday. Those who haven't renewed for another year are moving out and making room for a new batch of students and tenants.

And the movers are leaving behind lots of possessions that they don't want to carry with them.

It's a time of year that creates headaches for city garbage collectors and utility workers, but it can be a boon to Lawrence's scavengers and bargain hunters.

"There's people who try to get out and beat us to the stuff," said Bob Yoos, the city's solid -waste division manager. "Because it's good stuff."

For some, it's an annual diversion.

"I would say the big entertainment in this town is when they put out their stuff and the people in town start looking for bargains," said a chuckling Reed Peterson, manager of the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Appliances, food, more

Yoos said some students carry out refrigerators and other large appliances -- many in working condition -- to the trash bin rather than move them.

"We see furniture, we see a lot of clothing, a lot of food, almost everything that can appear," Yoos said. "It sometimes appears that people packed everything they could into their car and leave the rest behind."

Some movers donate their unwanted possessions to thrift stores. The Lawrence charities that operate many of the stores benefit from the unwanted goods.

"We see a lot of donations of furniture, clothing, just about anything you can think of," said Edna Butler, an employee of Lawrence's Disabled American Veterans Thrift Store. "They tell us they would rather give it to us than put it in the Dumpster."

That isn't always a good thing for the stores, though.

"We love having the stuff, but it becomes a capacity issue," Peterson said. "The problem is, our store is totally packed. And a lot of the stuff they're getting rid of is unusable -- couches, chairs, tables that are torn and broken."

Many of the items are quickly sold to new students, he said.

City Hall impact

Ed Mullins, the city's finance director, said his department is overrun with current and former students terminating their service and new students starting it. More than 2,400 households will be transferring service Tuesday and Wednesday, he said.

Mullins hires three temporary employees to help handle the rush but said that callers to the office can find themselves caught in the phone traffic.

"We do have some people who hold for 10, 15 minutes and then drop off because they don't get through," Mullins said.

Another by-product of moving season: homeless pets.

Stacy Hoobler, operations manager for the Lawrence-Douglas County Humane Society, said the society's shelter used to be swamped in late summer with pets abandoned by departing students. No more.

"We really don't see that problem as much as we used to, because we screen our applicants much better," she said. "Now our adoption rate actually goes up this time of year."

Yoos, meanwhile, will send out a supervisor to scour student neighborhoods for overloaded trash containers and quickly route garbage crews to them.

All of the activity requires a "bit more work," he said.

"It's just an annual rite of passage," he said. "It's one of the rhythms of Lawrence."

-- Staff writer Joel Mathis can be reached at 832-7126.

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