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Cookeville Tree-Mulching System Helps Residents Out After Holidays

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville Tree-Mulching System Helps Residents Out After Holidays

Cookeville Public Works has a tree-mulching system to make use of old Christmas trees and ease holiday cleanup for residents.

Public Works Director Blake Mayo said allowing citizens to leave trees on the curb limits the risk involved with people burning old trees. He said the department runs the trees through a Vermeer Tub Grinder to produce a fine, nearly professional quality mulch.

“It is kind of a violent operation to watch that machine work,” Mayo said. “Unfortunately, it’s kind of a high-maintenance cost operation, but that’s what it takes to get that product ground up.”

Mayo said the mulch is then stockpiled on Jackson Street where people can come take the product for free. The city also uses the mulch for public parking lots and outdoor areas around Cookeville like Leslie Town Center.

“We’re doing an operation where we ground the mulch twice,” Mayo said. “I think the stuff we’ve put out there has only been ground once and still looks pretty good, but the reground mulch almost looks like something that you would go and purchase.”

Mayo said the city used to burn the trees for people, but there were complications with that process. He said burning the trees required the city to use an air curtain incinerator, an even more high-maintenance process.

“A lot of environmental issues in terms of things we had to do with monitoring and that kind of thing,” Mayo said. “We had to do smoke-testing and that kind of thing, and also, there were several complaints with it. When you start that operation up, there’s a lot of smoke before you get the thing operating optimally.”

He said staffing issues have the city behind schedule on regular leaf pickup, but the tree pickup will begin as soon as they are caught up. The city also uses the machine to take care of the brush piles picked up from other Putnam County towns and neighborhoods.

“Make sure they’re not in the street, and yes, get all of the decorations and lights and all of those things off of them, because we’re going to grind them up,” Mayo said.


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